Beach Riot – ‘Subatomic Party Cool’

By Fiachra Johnston

Plane tickets bought through gambling on horse races, a search to find bandmates when really they were right by your side all along, travelling midnight recording sessions in the midst of a pandemic… The story of Beach Riot’s formation could almost be an album of itself, a feel good story of musicians coming together to amp up the distortion within the UK rock scene. Make no mistake, however: The international quartet’s debut album, ‘Subatomic Party Cool’ is just as exciting a story, encompassing their journey so far and then some. Unrelentingly catchy and fuzzier than a peach in puberty, a riot really has come to the beaches of Brighton.

And when we say fuzzy, we’re not kidding. Thick, grungy distortion layers over some very danceable pop rock riffs throughout the record, right from the opening track ‘B.A.D’ (one of the first demos recorded by vocalist ‘Rory’). If that’s not to your taste then you’re very much going to find yourself at odds with Beach Riot – it’s their signature sound and it infiltrates most everything on the LP. The psychedelic rock tinged ‘Good To Know (That I’m Still On Your Mind), whose warm distortion is reminiscent of distorted brothers-in-arms Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, the punky ‘Modern Dinosaur, with its poppy, almost ska-like drums, or ‘Wraith’, with its swarming wasps nest of guitars and vocals from Argentinian ‘Cami’ (who shines in her moments sharing vocal duties alongside ‘Rory’ and ‘Jim’), all find unique ways to blend this fuzz with interesting instrumentation into new and exciting forms.

Beach Riot are very open about their influences in interviews, citing their “unattainable gods and goddesses” of music as sounds to chase after, and many of their hero’s styles find their way onto the album. ‘Unrequited Love’ evokes some of the haunting nature of Radiohead with its slow chorus of “What do you do, when love’s got you”. ‘Faze’ often feels like a wonderful Foo Fighters tribute (with some Dave Grohl-inspired drums from ‘Jonny’ to boot), while conversely ‘She’s A Hurricane’ plays like a speedy Nirvana B-side akin to the often sampled ‘Very Ape’. Right to the grandiose end of ‘Serial Scruff’, there are so many likeable comparisons and references to be found, but nothing feels ripped off. Underneath the distortion is some watertight production that makes the album feel wonderfully cohesive for a first full length record.

‘Subatomic Party Cool’ might be a debut album, but it feels like a band crossing the finish line. Despite some dark undertones, Beach Riot’s first full length release feels like the victory lap of a long journey by a tight knit circle of friends, the origin story for a group whose roots stretch from the hills of Argentina to the beaches of Brighton. It’s hard not to fall in love with the punky, sprightly nature of the quartet, and SPC is a wonderful introduction to a group that has every intention of taking over the UK scene in a flurry of fuzz. Let the riots continue.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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