The last couple of years the Macedonian punk scene was a revelation to me. Fonija, Bernays Propaganda and Noviot Pochetok became personal favourites while other bands like Xaxaxa have had their regular time on my turntable as well. What these bands have in common is a sense of melody that is rather melancholic, the courage to develop their sound in new directions and the fact they sing (mostly) in their mother tongue.
That last fact is something that I have learned to appreciate. Instead of lyrics in broken English the singer is self assured and has the freedom to express him- or herself in the language that is closest to the heart. Of course, it is pretty hard for me to sing along with lyrics in a language I do not master, but I do not care about that too much. Add to that that the change that someone speaking Macedonian will hear me sing along to those songs is pretty slim. Well, I just sing along! Whether a band sings in Macedonian, Swedish, Spanish or whatever, I sing along and butcher those lyrics mercilessly!
The last couple of years Fonija called it quits (and reincarnated as My Tear) and it was way to quiet around Bernays Propaganda and Noviot Pochetok. When I tell you Noviot Pochetok translates to New Beginnings you might guess (and you would be right) that Noviot Pochetok is back under a different monniker. The Beginnings is Macedonia's longest running punk band with over 17 years of experience. Their last two records, Melancholic Machine from 2012 and Jas Zum Zemja from 2015, are both hidden gems of the hardcore punk scene. Where the first is rooted in true hardcore punk, think Good Riddance or (old) Rise Against, the latter is more melodic punk with even some indie influences shining true.
I Am Dirt is a return and it is not. The songs on here are reworked versions of their favourite songs from discography. These songs are not just re-recorded, but also sung in English for the first time. Let’s have a look at both developments.
These band favourites are reworked. As I said earlier, this scene was not afraid of developing a sound; every record sounds different from the ones before that. This is also the case on I Am Dirt. The hardcore is not just pushed to the back ground, it is almost removed from the sound. The band declared itself to be playing melancholic punk. That’s a statement I consider to be true. The Beginnings has shed it’s wolf skin and replaced it with something gentler, more sombre, but it retains its sense of melody throughout. It good to hear some of these songs in a different version, it’s even more fun to compare them to the older versions. I guess it depends on my own mood which version I dig most.
Let’s now have look at the other change, and this is a major change. All lyrics are in English this time around. The Beginnings suffer a bit from ESL (English As A Second Language) here. Fitz has a thick accent. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I can imagine this is a barrier for some listeners. For some this might even be a bigger barrier than hearing him sing in his mother tongue. At times it sounds as if he is aware of his accent and this makes him a bit uncertain. I could be wrong here, perhaps Fitz is just adapting his voice to the slightly mellower version of the song. Still I can’t shake of the feeling that the lyrics are brought with less conviction than they deserve.
I am happy to hear from this great band again. I hope that singing in English opens some doors for them that remained closed for them so far. After listening to this record for the past two months I am still doubting whether I prefer the older versions of these songs over the newer version. Decide for yourself: I can only urge you check this band out, they deserve it.
8.0 / 10
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