Album Of The Week: Beverly Careers
I won’t lie: This was a rough week. Some weeks are rough because there are so many great albums that, when I pick one, I’m doing a disservice to all the others. And then some weeks are rough because there’s just nothing going on. This is one of those weeks. We haven’t seen a release date this barren since January, and I can’t even imagine why that would be the case. When it’s like that, you can go a couple of directions. You can venture far afield from your usual chosen genres and find something that works amazingly on its own terms. This wasn’t the week for that; Trey Songz’ Trigga and Robin Thicke’s Paula were not exactly waiting around to kick my ass. So instead, we’re going the other direction: Finding an album that fits squarely into the sort of thing Stereogum usually covers, but which would’ve probably flown under the radar during a more packed week. And that’s why this week’s Album Of The Week is Careers, the pleasant but slight debut from the Brooklyn duo Beverly.
After that opening paragraph, everything I have to say about Careers is going to look like faint praise, but “pleasant but slight” is no slight. Careers is not an ambitious album; its 10 tracks breeze by in less than half an hour, and it’s not even a Ramones sort of thing where they’re just anxious to get to the next one. The pace is calm, expansive, unhurried. The guitars sound like sunbeams shining in through a dusty room. The harmonies flutter like candy wrappers in a pleasant spring breeze. It’s just about impossible to keep a bad mood going while the album plays. But there’s no holy-fuck moment, no section of a song where the duo leaves its body behind and soars skyward. If you’re looking for an album that will consume your soul this summer, that will give grand meaning to even the most quotidian tasks, that will remain tangled up forever with your memories of the summer of 2014, then you’re a week late, and you should really catch up with the How To Dress Well joint. But if you’re looking for a nice soundtrack to the next time you’re cleaning your apartment, you’ve come to the right place.
Frankie Rose is one half of Beverly, and since she went solo, she’s made three albums that are just as pleasant as this one, albums that play around with new wave and postpunk and late-’80s indie-pop. There are hints of those sounds in Careers, too, but Rose isn’t the mastermind this time. Instead, she’s in a supporting role, and Drew Citron, who used to play in Rose’s backing band and in the New York electro-pop group Ava Luna, is the driving force. Citron seems to be most comfortable with simple bash-it-out fuzz-pop, a genre that’s got nostalgia built into its bones. And so Beverly reminds me of bands I grew up with, bands like Tuscadero and the Rondelles, who fused garage rock with Buzzcocks-born pop-punk and early-’90s twee-core. I have fond memories of those bands, and those bands were probably built from fond memories themselves. Rose used to play drums in the Vivian Girls, who worked a sped-up (and, to my mind, not-as-good) take on that same sound. And so Beverly, like every other band in their whole genetic tree, probably have a ton of the Ronnettes and the Kingsmen in their musical DNA, and they’ve picked up all sorts of indie fuzz down the line. Rose and Citron spend most of the album singing in close, reverby harmony, and their voices work better together than either would alone. It’s small, quiet, conspiratorial music, and in the right light, it’s just gorgeous.
But fuzzy garage-pop isn’t the only thing Beverly do, and there’s a nice sense of variation within the 10 tracks of Careers. “Ambular” is a two-minute kraut-punk workout with no vocals; it reminds me of the moment, around 1978, when the first UK punk bands started listening to Can and ended up making weird fusions like Magazine. “Hong Kong Hotel” is a basement-synthpop prom theme. “Black And Grey,” the album’s last song, uses early Stereolab as its starting point, and it’s full of empty space. Opener “Madora” has such a bald Pixies bite in its chorus that I can’t help but admire it. Throughout, they try different things, tinkering with ideas of melody and genre. Careers is a figuring-things-out album, not a fully-formed debut. But during a slow week, an exceedingly pleasant figuring-things-out album is more than enough.
Careers is out now on Kanine. Stream it below.
Other albums of note out this week:
• Mark Kozelek’s concert recording Live At Biko.
• Boredoms side project OOIOO’s gamelon-influenced Gamel.
• Turn To Crime’s scuzzy, scrappy debut Can’t Love.
• Brian Eno and Karl Hyde’s second collaboration High Life.
• Matthewdavid’s glitchy, warped In My World.
• Late Bloomer’s effortlessly fuzzed-out Things Change.
• The fundraising comedy-rock compilation 2776.
• Cam’ron’s First Of The Month, Vol. 1 EP.
• Favored Nations’ Amazon EP.
• Essáy’s Ocarina EP.
• Zeds Dead’s Somewhere Else EP.
• Doozies and Flower Girl’s Live In The Basement split EP.