Some bands exist both inside a scene and outside the sound of the given scene. Beaten Alive are one of those bands. They are a band from Ohio identifying with the garage scene of their state sharing friend The Black Keys. This is where most of the normal characteristics end. While there is a touch of garage rock and some of that attitude in their songs for the most part the sound exists outside of that convention. They incorporate keyboards (not organs) and play with an ear for sensible melodies and hooks rather than reckless abandon. This is where we begin to see the sound open up for Beaten Awake.
The keyboards are a big piece of the Beaten Alive puzzle. They exist in nearly every song in one way or another. They provide a nice if not necessary counterpoint to the guitars and help to set the band apart in a big way. The guitars rely on bluesy scales that is conventional for most garage rock. the guitars help to lead the songs along never getting too overdriven or distorted to get nasty. The drumming and bass is slightly different than most of this style. the drums are quick to play a competent fill but never overtake anything else while the bass at points tend to lead certain songs making them rock along in less garage rock way.
The truly interesting part of this album is that they have a keen ear for emotional resonance. The vocals don\\\'t force their way into any of the songs. At times the vocals calmly lie on top of the instrumentation floating without being ethereal. Other times the vocals create almost a childlike atmosphere for the songs giving them a fun quality that most bands forget about. The main issue is when they venture too far away from their sound. This happens mostly when they use electronic blips and bloops to effectively destroy any smooth flow to the song and making it downright annoying. While I don\\\'t think it\\\'s impossible for them to incorporate different elements into their compositions it should be done more tastefully. The problem resides in the fact that these sounds or experiments seem to be dropped in the songs with little regard for the structure itself or the albums flow.
In spite of it\\\'s issues and missteps this remains a strong enjoyable album. The mix is perfect for this style, having just enough grittiness while not dampening the natural brightness of their songwriting. The artwork is fun and more indie looking belying any of their garage rock sounds. Hopefully any of these issues get cleared up, if so watch out for their next album.
7.2 / 10
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