Nude Beach – II

Rating: ★★★★½

There’s very few records out there that force you to pause and take a deep breath, momentarily reflecting upon the great possibilities that await you.  This is precisely what happened to me when I first put on II, the latest release from New York’s Nude Beach.  For me, it’s exactly everything I love in music…a little bit punk, a little bit pub and a whole lot of hooks; isn’t that what we all want?

“Radio” is the opener for II, and it’s a great way to start things; it’s sort of power-pop, but the type that was sung by your older brother when he was hanging out doing Springsteen covers with his friends. This vocal’s not punk rock; there’s a bit of classic American pop sensibility, which is refreshing in this genre.  And of course, the band moves into a bit of their Elvis Costello work on the following track “Walking Down My Street,” but I like the slight bit of yelp that comes through; it balances out with the smoothness of the song’s chorus.

But, as much as I love to write about great power-pop tunes, Nude Beach adds an extra bit of pop that lays outside the tried-and-true formula. You take a  tune like “You Make It So Easy,” and you can tell that this group isn’t defined by the historical context of the tunes they obviously favor.  I like the mellower approach, the touches of keyboard bouncing in the background and I don’t even mind the guitar solo.  You’ll also find hints of a good old-fashioned ballad by way of “Don’t Have to Try,” which is pretty much just a slow jam to close down the night at the bars, again with a late touch of organ in the background.

While it’s refreshing to see that II isn’t fueled by pure energy through and through, the peppy songs don’t hurt the release by any means. “Cathedral Echoes” is perhaps the most punk rock jam on the album, with furious pacing by the percussion section and a bratty bent on the vocals.  I like the swagger you can feel coming through the speakers on this tune, adding a bit of bounce to the record as it’s stuck between a few softer tunes. Album closer “Loser in the Game” has a similar edgy punch to it, but the song itself is a bit steadier, with a bit of that pub-rock swoon swinging atop the instruments.  For me, it’s all good fun, and that’s what I want from my rock n’ roll.

Nude Beach may have been bouncing around their local scene, but they’ve executed a pretty flawless album with II.  There are songs with a romantic leaning, there are tunes with energy, but it’s all done with a working class sensibility, making it one of the most enjoyable records I’ve written about in a long time. Now’s the time for these dudes, and this effort shows that times are good…and they’ll only get better.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Walkin_Down_My_Street.mp3]

Download:Nude Beach – Walkin Down My Street [MP3]

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