In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in honor of the actual beginning of the season, we’re picking our favorite summer songs.
When describing Beach Slang’s music the problem I keep running into is that it sounds like a diss instead of an endorsement. And, while I routinely refer to the band’s buzzy pop-rock songs as “A really good Goo Goo Dolls,” it’s easy to see why that phrase would be such a turnoff. After all, the Goo Goo Dolls have spent the past couple decades dealing easy listening balladry, with the band removing itself almost entirely from The Replacements worship of its earliest albums. Yet, as much as a good version of the Goo Goo Dolls is, in fact, just The Replacements, Beach Slang channels the kind of triumphant, alt-rock riffing of John Rzeznik without feeling as disheveled as mutual-inspiration Paul Westerberg.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Beach Slang’s members share a punk rock pedigree, one that informs the group’s movements and explains why vocalist James Snyder sounds so much like Leatherface’s Frankie Stubbs. There’s not really a bum track in the four-song batch that make up its debut EP, Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?, but the lead-off of “Flithy Luck” is the kind of fuzzed-out pop rock anthem that makes the summer imagery evoked by the band’s name apt. These are songs that should have been staples of ’90s rock radio, but are just a little too late to receive the benefit–and eventual detriment–of such ubiquity. They’re the soundtrack to sweaty summer nights, lazy days at the beach, and the few months between spring and fall when bright, bubbly songs aren’t just a pick me up, but a reflection of the outside world.