Back in 2015, Dumb released two EPs, Friendship and Tulips. They were energetic, exciting and marked Dumb as a very exciting prospect for Vancouver music. However, they were raw and rough around the edges. Listening to their debut full length album, Beach Church, the first thing that strikes you is how much more polished they sound. It’s the first clue that even if Dumb enjoy their joker-boy image, they are maturing as musicians.
In the February 2016 issue of Discorder, the band described how Beach Church started out as a concept album “which was supposed to be slide guitar, surf-themed, instrumental, experimental and electronic.” The surf-themed slide guitar is prevalent on three tracks that share their name with the LP, “Beach Church pt. I, II & III.” And there’s no short of experimentation throughout. ”pt. II” features a minimalistic break down, whilst “Radio” is driven by a walking bassline and vocals bordering on spoken word, leading to a scream of “I don’t know!” for the chorus. It’s infectious.
As they experiment outside their garage-punk staple, you feel that Dumb are growing in confidence compared to their early releases. In total, there are 4 instrumental tracks on the record, the three title tracks and “Dreams Come True.” The latter features an alto-sax part courtesy of Ridley Bishop, which is brave, bold and most importantly, good to listen to. The saxophone melts into your consciousness as it mixes with a delicate guitar line.
The only time when their bravery is ill-advised, however, is on ballad “She’s The Only part deux”, where the softer sound seems forced. This is the only real disappointment across the nine tracks. “Refrain” and “Gimme A Call” represent some of Dumb’s best work to date and are the clearest examples of how ‘Fowlder Macteb”s spiky guitar lines combine with ‘Franco Rossino”s vocals and witty lyrics to great effect. Single “7-11” is Dumb’s finest hour. It’s garage-punk at its best. It’s the type of track their heroes, Parquet Courts, create, that instantaneously makes you want to fling your limbs around.
Beach Church, then represents a musical progression for Dumb with their fearlessness taking them in many different directions. Although these directions aren’t all successful and they don’t always fit together as a whole on the record, Dumb’s potential is still clear to see. If they choose the right path, they can most certainly cement their place as one of the most exciting bands Vancouver has right now.