American record label Saddle Creek is best known for being the hunting ground of Conor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, aka The New Bob Dylan. Oberst is renowned for making albums as albums that is, not a random collection of songs throw hotch-potch together in the hope that it sticks but as an actual album in the purest form, something you would sit down and listen to instead of dipping in and out of on Spotify as is the way these days.
However, fellow Saddle Creekers Beep Beep have done exactly the opposite for their second effort, Enchanted Islands. Each song sounds like it is made by a totally different; there is no stylistic cohesion. There are no discernible trends, patterns or sounds. The vocals swing wildly from Elliott Smith/Jeff Buckley crooning to Hot Hot Heat style yelping. The guitars sound like they need tuning throughout, and not in a Seasick Steve, that’s the whole point kind of way. It’s a mess.
But that doesn’t mean it is total rubbish. ‘Wooden Nickels’ is a passable ballad, with the two voices, one light and one dark, contrasting nicely, and ‘Baby Shoes’ is an enjoyable lullaby for the weirdo generation. But it is mostly rubbish.
Unfortunately, they are rare bright sports in a sea of beige. Beep Beep are just trying to be too kooky, too out there, too damn weird to be taken seriously.
The PR bumf on the record label website describes Enchanted Islands as a “journey illuminated by the clash of willful escapism with the looming inevitability of “adult” choices”. Well, if it’s a journey, it’s certainly one I want to escape from, and I’m making the adult choice to never listen to this album ever again.