Monday, May 23, 2011

Dirty Beaches- Badlands REVIEW

Badlands, the debut album of Dirty Beaches, is a psychedelic blend of film-noir and Rockabilly influence. What begins as an interesting experiment in sound and nostalgia eventually becomes it’s own living, breathing genre. Dirty Beaches- aka Alex Zhang Hungtai, has a flair for capturing isolated moments both cinematic and detached. He then seemingly breeds these moments to create a sound as unknown as it is familiar- echoing many of the more macabre moments from David Lynch films that only exist within the forgotten diner in Hungtai’s mind.

That said- it’s hard to view Badlands as a non-alienating experience. While it is undoubtedly cool and it feels remarkably effortless, both its purposeful redundancy and lo-fi distortion periodically render it an uncomfortable experience for the listener. This is some bleak, somber stuff. However, this technique also works in the album’s favor. While Badlands opener “Speedway King” may reach a crescendo too unnerving to bear, it’s hard to argue that tracks 3-6 (“Sweet 17”, “A Hundred Highways”, “True Blue”- where we are treated to a graceful croon, “Lord Knows Best”) are not an incredibly rewarding stretch of bizarro Post-Boogie Woogie madness. The album is also well assembled and deliberately strays from moments of overt indulgence. Dirty Beaches concludes the journey not with more grating pitchiness- but with softer, ambient static that gently recalls the perpetual motion of a pendulum. For a twenty-seven minute, nine-track album, Badlands feels incredibly expansive- best playing on repeat during the darkest hours of the night.


Dirty Beaches - Sweet 17 by ObscureSound

Dirty Beaches - A Hundred Highways by sunofbeach

Dirty Beaches - True Blue by MartineWebzine

Dirty Beaches - Lord Knows Best by thesubs-blog

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