The Beautiful New Born Children
By: Julia Simon
Punk rock may have died when some kid said, “Punk’s not dead,” but the Beautiful New Born Children would scoff at such an assertion. In fact, these punk codgers find their mojo, however anachronistic, in the movement’s countercultural roots, back when performing floor-fillers with frenzied abandoned made outfits like the Replacements so electrifying. But like many a punk band, the Replacements lost their edge as they tried to attract mainstream attention with less sloppy, even innocuous production. The BNBC’s debut, Hey People!, though, is amply raw and raucous: “Sorry ma,” indeed.
For BNBC, punk never really died — it simply cartwheeled back underground where it could rediscover its fuck-all footing. In fact, frontman Michael Beckett explicitly refers to such a credo on “OK, Alright, Fine”: “I’m feeling fine / Hey, I’m okay / And I don’t really give a fuck what you say,” he coughs out in a blender-chopped vocal. Beckett delivers each line with ululating, primitive grandeur, and his backing cast (which includes his wife, Kristen) relishes in squalling walls of reverberating riffs, emphatic drum fills, and relentless feedback.
With a slew of two-minute tracks all threatening to somersault into fuzz-fueled disarray, the band pounds out punk formations like MC5 kicked out the jams: “Paper Mill” boasts a basic three-chord progression, simple melody, and stupid-yet-stylized lyrics (“I want to show them how to have a good time / I would like to show them how to boogie down”). Although the song feels full of swagger and no sweat, that kid who declared punk’s death can’t help but skank a little, and this time with renewed faith.