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Beat Radio feels your pain before rising from the fire on "Real Love" LP





Beat Radio feels your pain before rising from the fire on "Real Love" LP

Real Love (Totally Real Records) is the sixth LP by Beat Radio—a musical delivery mechanism for the “heartfelt, literate pop songs" of vocalist/guitarist Brian Sendrowitz with founding member Philip A. Jimenez returning to the fold to hold down drums/percussion in addition to synths, second guitar, backing vocals, banjo and a little bass guitar which I’m just gonna go ahead and assume he played all at once because overdubs are for wimps and then lastly-but-not-leastly Kathryn Froggatt brings some sweet vocal harmonies and bass lines and tambourine rattling to the musical table...

…painting an expansive canvas full of fog-shrouded chamber pop landscapes opening onto vistas of anthemic-yet-not-too-bombastic indie rock classique heavy on the churning mid-tempo rhythmic momentum and stately, stalwart melodies garnished with a dim sum banquet's worth of musical condiments ranging from burbling, buzzy keyboards to backward-masked guitar to reedy saxophone drones to folksy fiddle interludes with the help of a guest player here and there which taken together reinforces the “downtrodden uplift” found in the lyrics…

 …not to mention how “Lowlands” and the title track rescue the banjo from its besmirchment by the likes of Dumbford & Sons and Matchbox Twenty-One, nimbly integrating the instrument into indie-Americana settings without it sounding like Taylor Swift crashing a Yo La Tango concert and perhaps not since the opening strains of Grandaddy’s Sophtware Slump has the banjo (erm, fake “banjo” but still..) been so perfectly incorporated into sad-dad-rock except with Beat Radio there's no robots drinking themselves to death or interstellar space-colony miners placing long distance calls home to no avail with B. Sendrowitz & Co. keeping their emotive, plain-spoken songs more strictly earthbound…

 …which makes sense given that a chunk of Real Love was written in a “fever dream” state during early peak-period pandemic lockdown and indeed the songs read as “locked down” physically and temperamentally flipping between states of emotional devastation and emotional resignation and emotional disassociation which dovetails nicely with the juxtaposition of placid sonic surfaces and stormy musical microbursts with Brian clarifying that on this album “there was nothing to hold back anymore…I went all in emotionally in a deeper way than I was capable of before”…

…like on “Disassociation Blues" a song that confronts some pretty harsh realities head on (“I was hiding since I was child / and the storm was coming all the while […] golden age that never came / dreams that we let slip away”) while seeking to evade and avoid these harsh realities at the same time (“dissociation blues / I don't even know what's true […] emotionally detached / hiding all the evidence”) and here as elsewhere Beat Radio straddles the fine line between huddled-in-a-fetal-position-in-the-bathtub lamentations and cold-shower catharsis…

 …and besides it being a “serious relationship gone seriously wrong” record one could also read Real Love as an extended political allegory especially with it being released near the midterms and especially with all the nature-of-reality-up-for-grabs lyrical moments on Real Love (“I made my own creation myth / trying to prove that I exist” — “Solid Ground”) and in these election denying days but I digress…

…and ok maybe I'm overreaching seeing as the record could as easily be about your grandma's lasagna as about the life of Brian especially in this post-death-of-the-author moment but either way if this sounds at all up your chimney chute and/or if you tend to enjoy the tremulous-yet-tempestuous poptones of The Tragically Hip, Los Campesinos!, Nada Surf, Fountains of Wayne, Waxahatchee and Sebadoh then you may very well enjoy Beat Radio too and finally here's hoping “We Rise From Fire” in the days and weeks and years ahead… (Jason Lee)

Published: November 08, 2022 |

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