It seemed an odd move to follow-up the infectious, breakthroughWave Pictures record with the sedated, largely mid-tempo If YouLeave It Alone. It was the polar opposite of what made people fall forInstant Coffee Baby in the first place, lacking the raucousness,the rough edges of its predecessor. To some extent, it was a stepbackwards; sucking out the momentum that had been gathered from theprevious album’s positive critical and fan reception.
It’s soothing news to hear that Beer In The Breakers was recordedin a mere day then, because this hints at a reignition of whatworked so perfectly with The Wave Pictures. Certainly, you’re immersedin the chaotic, all-out renditions of some of the most excitingefforts from David Tattersall and co’s back catalogue to date. Theopening couplet of Blue Harbour and in particular, Now Your SmileComes Over In Your Voice exemplify just how far a stodgy liverecording can get you. In similar fashion to White Denim, thesheer energy of the piece is enough to win you over: you feel as ifyou’re placed right beside Tattersall, inches away from his whimsicaltones. It’s an enthralling experience.
More complimentary elements of Instant Coffee Baby crop up in thestorytelling, the lyrical playfulness, all crammed together in TwoLemons, One Lime. Although it might be a completely trivial,un-enlightening tale of a woman preferring a white wine over a red, itpinpoints the charm of Tattersall’s songwriting; his readiness torecite idyllic days in the sunshine spent with friends.
A more intriguing anecdote crops up in the album’s title track.It’s a story of homelessness, building a “temporary home” and drinking”beer in the breakers”. “I hope they weren’t alone here,” musesTattersall, on top of a sparse, drawn-out guitar section.
It seems contrived that the highlights of this record come in theform of slower moments, considering that lack of intensity is the coreweakness of 2009’s If You Leave It Alone. Yetit’s the effortless pendulum swing between the breakneck efforts andthe more delicate numbers that gives Beer In The Breakers its mandate. Virtually every song is laced with a guitar solo and you can enjoythe gung-ho, piercing solos as much as the elongated, more measuredinclusions.
A return to form, then. The Wave Pictures have dozens of recordsunder their belt, so there was never any doubting this. You can’t helpbut feel however that were this to have followed their 2008 “hitrecord”, it would have given the band a bigger chance of becomingsomething of a household name. Not to rack our brains over missedopportunities though; we ought to be grateful that such an almightyeffort came around in the first place.