Record Review - 2 September 26 2001

Every year it seems one band pulls off a retro-style coup with enough class and natural ease to make you forget (momentarily, at least) you've heard this all before. This year's model is Beulah, a six-piece California (where else?) band who handily proves that musical larceny needn't portend creative stagnation. Joyfully pilfering from such pop luminaries as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Love and the Velvet Underground, the Coast Is Never Clear avoids kitschy style mongering thanks to a bevy of solid songs. Bathed in a glorious summer glow, Beulah's sun-dappled pop tunes conceal darkening hearts and down-turned fortunes. Rife with tales of faded glory, drugs that stop working and girlfriends who just don't care anymore, the songs are perversely buoyed by melodies that'd make Greg Brady smile.

Beulah had me by the first 20 seconds of the second track, "A Good Man is Easy to Kill." The fuzzed-out George Harrison-esque guitar riff, the cascading "bah-bah-bah" vocals, the percolating bass line — a sucker punch of good old-fashioned pop bliss. Then comes the chorus, a sunburned beauty that slices into the brain with the ease of a hot knife through butter. And it just keeps getting better from there.

Beulah plays Mon., Oct. 1, at the Echo Lounge.??