• Freya Martin

Album Review: Beach Baby - 'Songs from the Limbo Lounge'

Freya uncovers the newfound maturity on indie pop eclectics Beach Baby's second full-length album.

It’s difficult to define the sound of Beach Baby to a certain category, which, given this current-climate of genre-bending music, is not unusual. Described to me by a friend as ‘a fusion of 70s beach dad and California dream pop’, this record from the London-based four-piece is their first in three years since their debut album No Mind No Money, and stands miles apart from the jangly catchy riffs of Limousine or poppy synths of Smoke Won’t Get Me High on the previous album. Having maintained a relative silence since the success of this first release in 2016, Beach Baby have finally emerged from the shadows with a well-crafted, cohesive and more refined sound for their second full-length album Songs from the Limbo Lounge.

Picture this: four adult men, perhaps slightly weary and disillusioned by the music industry, confine themselves to a small dingy shed at the bottom of their drummer’s garden, equipped with only their instruments to sustain them. The ensuing musical conception echoes of a melancholia and a slight antipathy for modern life; the attitude of band as a whole has changed much over the 3-year period since their last, notably more upbeat, album. The ‘Limbo Lounge’ itself is a semi-imaginary place created as a product of the minds of guitarist-vocalists Ollie Pash and Laurence Pumffrey, and manifested itself in the form of this garden shed in which most of the album was realised.

"Beach Baby have finally emerged from the shadows with a well-crafted, cohesive and more refined sound."

Songs from the Limbo Lounge represents a certain maturity and wisdom gained by the members of the band since their first early success. More relaxed and understated, the tracks on this album have a greater depth and profundity often not present in their earlier work. That isn’t to say the music itself is as dark as some of the lyrical sentiments, but quite the opposite; contemplative, image-chasing ideals of Big School rub shoulders with the spangled disco-like influences of Lonesome Jim and glossy pop rock of Human Remains.

Image courtesy of Mike Massaro

The album launch at the infamous MOTH club in east London was the perfect setting for the band to return from their obscurity to the live music scene, opening their set in a haze of ambient purple lights with Limbo Lounge, the final track from the album. This track coalesces the concepts of the entire album into a single serene but eerie song, featuring sultry vocals from guitarist Pumffrey and a delicious spectral melody from guest saxophonist Tom Beech of Pelicandy. This album sees the lead vocals shared between Pash and Pumffrey, as opposed to Pash as lead vocalist, resulting in a much more varied sound – tracks switch between the lighter, more buoyant voice of Pash to the deeper nonchalant bass tones of Pumffrey. These two seemingly contrasting voices come together effortlessly on a number of songs, not least Limbo Lounge, where the jarring piano chords and ethereal vocals create a truly special conclusion to the album.

"More relaxed and understated, the tracks on this album have a greater depth and profundity often not present in their earlier work."

This multifaceted album necessitates repeated listening to truly understand both the depth of each song and its sentiment as a piece of work on the whole. At the surface, Beach Baby’s sound may come across as relaxed and easy-going indie pop, however underneath there is a flurry of apprehensive uncertainty about functioning in the 21st century music industry. A scant and indistinct online existence and ambiguous Instagram presence leaves much about the band’s story to the imagination of the listener – what is clear however is that this album is wildly different from their debut and is perhaps a result of landing the wrong side of the fame machine, providing an insight into the aftermath of quick success and subsequent obscurity in the music industry. It is however an engaging and alluring sound, and one which will perhaps redefine Beach Baby as a band to be taken, and listened to, seriously.

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