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CD of The Week

Week of 11/13/23

    The Beaches - Blame My Ex (AWAL)

    Write what you know. The Beaches were going through collective breakups, so they used that chaotic energy to write their second album Blame My Ex. The tracks are individual, cathartic diary entries, expressing the stages of relationships from a personal, self-centered, and uncensored place. Where most famous breakup songs are veiled, snarky metaphors, aimed at an anonymous culprit, singer Jordan Miller brazenly penned the opening track with her ex’s name right in the title. “Blame Brett” references her recent ex, (Brett Emmons; singer from The Glorious Sons), and is a disclaimer to potential lovers that she won’t be a good partner because of how he left her. Adding to insult, her first lyric proclaims, “I’m done being the sad girl / I’m done dating rockstars.” Keyboardist/guitarist Leandra Earl recently told Atwood Magazine that the album could have been called Blame Brett on the strength of the single’s popularity on Spotify and as a viral TikTok video, but they decided that they didn’t want the whole album named for the one song.

    Using “Blame Brett” as a starting point, the personal journal entries flow linearly, first tackling the anxiety and fear of being alone in the arena emo rock single “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Paranoid.” But while single, it is important to rediscover yourself, and “Me and Me” is a fun, self-sufficient song that starts like a record switching from 33 to 45. Miller sings, “Hanging with me and me, finally free / Won't waste my life self-loathing.” However, being single can lead to a rut and “Everything is Boring” expresses that stagnant feeling leading to the pursuit of thrills. In the case of our collective authors, that leads to the carnal desire for passionate casual encounters on the dreamy, lofty prom slow dance “My Body Ft Your Lips.”

    While the album features over-the-top, empowering themes of a phoenix rising from relationship ashes as a better, emboldened superhero, the diary entries are not without humility. “Kismet,” a Blondie-disco-meets-Franz Ferdinand track, wonders what fate is trying to say as the author runs into the same crush repetitively. And perhaps overwhelmed by all the body and lips fantasies, the driving “Shower Beer” admits to the gluttony of non-stop partying and giving in to FOMO. But before the listener can drown in negativity, the record briefly switches gears toward optimism. “Edge of the World,” is the only pro-relationship song on the record about Earl and her girlfriend. Miller explained to Atwood, “As a band, we felt that it was really important that we finally wrote a song about a queer relationship. Two of us are queer and we hadn’t written about the subject on any of our other records.”

    Musically, the band sees Blame My Ex as earnest and grounded compared to their previous album and EPs. As the songs flitter somewhere between Beach Bunny and Joan Jett, there are plenty of power pop hooks, classic rock grooves and honest, relatable emo expressiveness to keep the attention focused on them. And people have seemed to notice: their U.S. tour that just rolled through Philly a few weeks ago was sold out at the door, as were most of their other dates. I guess having your first album produced by Metric’s Emily Haines and James Shaw (Late Show, 2017) and being asked to open on the only Canadian date for The Rolling Stones 2019 tour doesn’t hurt either. The album wraps itself up with the best track on the album, “Cigarette” channeling the orgasmic feeling of possibility when meeting an extremely attractive person at a party. Maybe it all works out in the end for our authors…however…go back and check out that track one.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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