The Beautiful Girls make surf music for people that
can’t surf: yielding acoustic amalgamations of
frat-folk rock and reggae power ballads. Nestling their
sound comfortably in between Jack Johnson and O.A.R.
limits the potential for experimentation, but a minimal,
live-sounding recording aesthetic works to create a
slender jolt of pure, lazy day atmosphere.
The breezy chorus of the disc’s title track (“Like
water, memories drift away”) and the tender instrumental
infrastructure of slightly bluesy, loose-stringed acoustic
guitars is a good summarization of what Water has
to offer. Mat McHugh’s chirping, island-inflected
semi-raps (a la G. Love et al.) punctuate verses while
he attempts soulful crooning for climactic choruses.
But the group’s penchant for corny, let-the-good-times-roll
jam outs sometimes hinders the discs playability, most
notably on “Music” where stoner-sentimentality
(“I’ve got music and it makes me feel alright”)
unintentionally transforms into vague pedophilic creepiness
(“He drives all those little
girls crazy”). But on other tracks, sickly sweet
melodies and plaintive guitar strumming masks McHugh’s
songwriting, making for an almost instrumental sensibility,
as if the vox were merely an afterthought.
“Weight of the World” playfully invokes deeply entrenched dub and
the everlasting sway of classic rocksteady. “Morning Sun” manages
some slick blues work via McHugh’s slide guitar and Mitchell Connelly’s
slippery percussion. And the entrenched instrumental, “At the First Sign
of Trouble” is a pleasant, mid-album breather. At other points, the Beautiful
Girls’ pop sensibilities shine through with accurate melodies, engineered
perfectly for swooning beach chicks and moonlit bonfires, especially album opener, “Periscopes.”
Favorite Track: Track 10, "Weight of the World ”