In 2001, a band named Weston split up. The Philly pop-punkers had spent over a decade vying for a mainstream breakthrough that never materialized, and they called it quits to very little fanfare (despite having cultivated a small, but dedicated following). All told, it was an anti-climactic run to say the least. Now, fourteen years later, Weston’s unassuming guitarist James Alex Snyder has cozied up to the driver’s seat with his new, buzzy project, Beach Slang, and boy is it paying off.
The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is Beach Slang’s debut full-length, but the lead up to its release has already marked the ten track-long album a triumph. Two EPs and incessant touring laid the groundwork for a pretty incredible level of hype—Entertainment Weekly recently named this one of “8 Debut Albums to Get Excited About This Fall.” Snyder took to the band’s Facebook page to express his heartfelt, incredulous gratitude, saying his “loser daydream career” finally felt justified, but his words for the magazine feel a little more revealing; he boils down his process as such: “You take this hookable sort of vibe and combine it with this restless spirit and it just becomes this really cool thing.”
Indeed, that’s exactly what the Beach Slang formula comes down to. The Things We Do builds on teen movie moments, like going streaking through suburban streets or staring up at the stars from your parents’ driveway. Snyder lends his coarse rasp to soaring, guitar-driven melodies, pairing the angsty, though undeniably catchy sound with vaguely inspirational lyrics like “We’re allowed to be alive” (“Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”). Some tracks toy with a more aggressive, rough-around-the-edges approach, like “Young & Alive,” which plays with tension and release rather wonderfully and ends up feeling like a moment of holding your breath just before taking a deep dive. “Porno Love,” meanwhile, is all hazy pastel, with droning guitars forming a translucent wall of sound while slow and steady percussion serves as the song’s heartbeat. Snyder acts out affecting, adolescent malaise, nearly whispering lines like “We took a lot of time but not enough drugs.”
As a frontman, Snyder has the heart-on-his-sleeve act down pat. At shows and all over social media, he comes off as endearing and, perhaps most importantly, authentic, conveying the sort of honest vulnerability that inspires diehard fandom. Though Beach Slang’s rock-solid brand of exhilarating pop punk has been compared to The Replacements, The Psychedelic Furs, and even The Goo Goo Dolls, there’s something (dare I say it) Taylor Swiftian about the whole venture. That is to say, it’s smart. Years of keeping his nose to the grindstone without very much recompense could have easily broken James Alex Snyder, but he’s emerged with the kind of savvy that spells success. With The Things We Do, two things are for sure: he deserves it, and he’s only just getting started.