In music, 11 years is an eternity. Fads come and go and what was yesterday’s hit is today’s washed up band. Beachwood Sparks bucks that trend, proving that as long as there’s good music to be made, people will listen regardless of how long of a gap there is between records.
After releasing two albums at the top of the Aughts, the band went their separate ways, in 2003, feeling that their creativity was sapped and their time had passed. Though they performed at the Sub Pop 20th Anniversary concert in 2008, a reunion was still not in the cards. Although that got that them thinking, it took for the band’s version of Sade’s “By Your Side” was placed on the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack in 2010, the quartet saw this as a sign that it was time to get back into the studio and to make a new album, which eventually became The Tarnished Gold. There are so many good songs on this record, which proves that when a group like Beachwood Sparks has “it” then that doesn’t go away.
The album’s first track, “Forget The Song,” is an enchanted journey through the aforementioned genre. It’s trippy, yet mystical. Written by singer/guitarist Chris Gunst, the harmonies on this song are something else. The slide guitar, which carries the song, gives it character and transports you to another world.
“Sparks Will Fly” sounds eerily like a song that could have come out in 1973. Not only is that a good thing, the band’s form makes it as if they never took any time off. With alt-country becoming more popular in the psyche of music listeners, it makes sense that music listeners would gravitate towards this song. The mood is light and the feeling of nostalgia is apparent and gave guitarist “Farmer” Dave Scher the opportunity to shine on vocals. Though it’s not his usual position with the group, Farmer Dave does a great job and this is definitely one of the highlights from an album full of them.
Album closer “Goodbye” is a fitting way to tie things together. A tune could have had a place on The Big Lebowski soundtrack had it been recorded in 1998, “Goodbye” is reminiscent of L.A. folk pioneers The Flying Burrito Brothers. Think of a combination of psychedelia meets indie folk, with the best of both genres to boot.
The Tarnished Gold is a winner. This is the type of summer album that you can put on while hanging out with your friends during a late afternoon barbecue. It soothing, yet complex, and sounds like something Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would release now, if they were still young bucks. The L.A.-natives’ brand of alt-country meets indie rock is reminiscent of ‘70s Laurel Canyon folk and rootsy, Americana music. The range of songs doesn’t vary much, but that doesn’t mean the album isn’t good. Even with an 11-year absence from making music as a unit, Beachwood Sparks are one of the few bands that could get back together and have it sound like they never left.