Beach Day

Native Echoes

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    7
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After releasing an impressive debut, 2013's Trip Trap Attack, that fused garage punk energy, girl group melodrama, and plenty of classic pop songcraft, Beach Day returned a mere year later with another fun and frolicsome album. Native Echoes doesn't fool around much with the formula; the songs are still pretty simple, Kimmy Drake's strong vocals are still the focal point, and Jim Diamond's production adds a little bit of sweetening around the edges without turning the songs syrupy. The record may lack the raw energy of the first, but it makes up for it with better arrangements and a more focused approach. And some great songs. The first three are complete knockouts; the stormy pop of "All My Friends Were Punks," the lilting girl group swagger of "Don't Call Me on the Phone," and the melancholy swoon of "BFF's" are impossible to ignore, especially if you like your pop with runny mascara and big old hooks. The rest of the album has plenty of highlights too, the swaying prom rocker "The Lucky One" and the surfy, organ-filled "Fades Away" being the most notable. The starkly beautiful ballad "Lost Girl" is a beautiful feature for Drake's lovely voice too, showing that she could probably sing some "real" music if the garage pop lark doesn't work out. On these tracks the duo of Drake and Skyler Black really seem to have a firm grasp on all the elements of making really good pop music. Unfortunately, the album is weakened by a few really duff-sounding songs that keep it from being the great leap forward it could have been. There's really not much excuse for adding a song as rudimentary and silly as "I'm Just Messin' Around" or as filler-y as the short surf instrumental "Gnarly Waves." Subtract these two songs and bump up the fidelity of the album's last song, "How Do You Sleep at Night," and the album would have been a killer. As it is, Native Echoes is another fun-filled, slightly flawed garage pop album that shows lots of promise and almost delivers on it.

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