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The Beautiful Girls

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 ”

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Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in San Francisco with a girl and a designer dog (Chihuahua vs. dachshund). He is in a band by himself and has a myspace account ( and a production company ( for freelance film and crit/journo work.

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