Album review: Beechwood – Sleep Without Dreaming

Album artwork

Words by Lady Godiva

Originally a three piece, NYC’s sexiest offspring since New York Dolls emerged from the dirt and glam of The Big Apple just under a decade ago with their debut Trash Glamour and have been shaping up their sound ever since. Right after the promising Songs from the Land of Nod, they released Inside the Flesh Hotel, a rough diamond that combined a myriad of influences and manifested how brilliantly they owned that sound, making it more modern. 

They are now back with a vengeance, with a more mature signature sound they have kept refining while cutting their teeth with an enhanced line up. Sleep Without Dreaming is made of the same rock’n’roll cloth as its predecessor but there is an ethereal, dreamlike and lunar side to it this time around. 

Gordon Lawrence‘s sultry vocals are the key to the opener, remaining fired up and heralding another cracker. Sid Simon‘s “Firing Line” is in the same vein as “Bigot in My Bedroom” or “Sucker” on Flesh Hotel, substantiating his knack for flawlessly catchy melodies, which he also churns out as the frontman of his other band Girlskin. There is something rather infectious in Beechwood’s DNA, an unbridled sensuality which oozes intensely from their guitars, their full canvas of ambiances and their vocals, Lawrence’s vocal range especially is endlessly arousing.

One enters another realm, feeling as though you were floating in space with the voluptuous and luscious mellowness of “Go My Way” and “Lost Lovers”, delightful appetizers preceding “Silver Cord”, the first pinnacle on the record, a surging wave of longing that epitomizes the band’s distinctive sound: lascivious, tantalizing and haunting. 

As the tunes perfectly fit into each other, Rowland S. Howard‘s shadow hangs over “She Broke Me”, a staggering love letter to the Crown Prince of the Crying Jag, one of the band’s major influences. Unflinching and spectral, this goosebumps inducing anthem incorporates the Australian musician’s one of a kind touch that majestically blends into the band’s components. “One blood lust glance of the milky way”, “She Broke Me” may remind some of “Still Burning’, although it is no rip off whatsoever but a stupendously inspired song. Beechwood know how to blow hot and cold and this is their most otherworldly incarnation. 

Beechwood

The lyrics here are darkly romantic, mysterious and thought-provoking all the way through. They revolve around darkness, loss and pain. These thorough poetic words are part and parcel of the hypnotic atmosphere on Sleep Without Dreaming, they make each track more complete.

This band is able to encapsulate the most diverse influences and make them their own. Their rendition of The Beatles‘ B-side “Rain” turns a psychedelic original number into a howling punk hymn. While many bands have just a leitmotiv, these young New Yorkers have many tricks up their sleeves and an alchemist approach to their wide array of catalysts. With this new effort, they craft an even more defined sound of their own. “Friendly Fire” echoes “Firing Lane” in its unbounded fervour and is also ablaze in its arresting lyrics that cut like a knife. A spooky tale of betrayal. 

The finale on the record, “Wept and Prayed” makes a knockout ending, bursting with melancholy that will send shivers down your spine, leaving a meditative imprint, emphasized by the rain… 

In lieu of sleep without dreaming, Beechwood provides the listener with a dazzling palette of mental pictures, sensations and moods, from the most soothing to the most fiery. They have the flair to beget strikingly evocative, magnetic and permeating atmospheres and increase them tenfold. If you don’t get a pulse to this collection of songs, visit your doctor ASAP.

Who said rock’n’roll was dead? This four-piece is the irrefutable proof rock is alive, kicking and rolling for many years to come.

Sleep Without Dreaming is due for release on the 22nd January via Alive Records

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