Tag Archives: Retro pop

DIRTY BEACHES Badlands

7 Jun

DIRTY BEACHES; BANDLANDS REVIEW

Bandlands, as the album title implies, doesn’t disappoint in portraying a somewhat David Lynch-esque inspired landscape of nihilistic dystopia, with the blurred faces of Martin Sheen and Cissy Spacek never too for in the background, or indeed Denis Hopper inhaling his…well, you get the picture.

But to simply relate the music made by Alex Zhung Hai, AKA Dirty Beaches to a few snapshot recollections of various cinematic flicks would be wholly unjust, because it’s not merely the images stirred which draws the attention but the feelings that are awoken alongside them, and it is this which (although musically it’s nothing new but indeed quite familiar) attracts us again and again to this particular mode of escapism entertainment. 

Badlands would certainly not sit out-of-place as the solitary remaining vinyl of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, perpetually repeating itself in this vast backdrop where the only other remainder is the howling wind of eternal lament.   The tracks ‘True Blue’, ‘Lord knows best’, or even ‘Black nylon’ perhaps convey this most accurately.  The rather short album holds a slightly antique sound quality, giving an impression that it’s just been dug up from beneath the earth with Zhung Hai’s Orbison sounding voice gently nursing the music.

As with a lot of his earlier work, the issue with Dirty Beaches is the uncanny resemblance to Suicide which at times may be difficult to distinguish by the not too familiar listener.  His cover of ‘Horses’ could easily pass, or be mistaken for an Alan Vega et al endeavour, and also ‘Sweet 17, except we discover more of a Rock ‘a’ Billy surf approach tinged by ‘The Cramps.  On the whole it’s a thoroughly commendable record endorsing a largely under-appreciated genre which Zhung Hai taps with obvious sincerety and affection, but it’s unfortunately nothing new to wail about.