Album Review: The Beets – Let the Poison Out

Within the first few seconds of “You Don’t Want Kids to Be Dead”, it’s clear that The Beets’ move to Hardly Art hasn’t drastically changed their sound. The familiar guitar jangle established by the Ramones-loving New York band on their previous albums, Spit in the Face of People Who Don’t Want to Be Cool and Stay Home, is fully intact, as is singer Juan Wauters’ seemingly carefree lyrics. Let the Poison Out finds him sounding clearer than ever, while the music is a pleasing variation on the formula they’ve been working toward perfecting since the beginning.

The art of a lo-fi garage rock band lies in their ability to craft the most effortless sound. For The Beets, this skill also comes with trademark quirkiness, such as the occasional Spanish-sung lyric and perhaps a raucous interlude sitting somewhere between the “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” of their sing-along choruses. On “Doing As I Do”, Wauters casually approaches the subject of death, singing, “Don’t be afraid. You will not die/And if you die, whatever.” Early on, “Preso Voy” lays the groundwork for the broken English and the lackadaisical acoustic strum of “Wipe It Off”, which features their new drummer, Chie Mori, contributing backing vocals. These tunes are sweet despite the fact that her voice is free of any overt saccharine quality that would detract from the tongue-in-cheek world The Beets live in.

Like their heroes the Ramones, The Beets build off of simple drum work and guitar riffs that they could probably write in their sleep. The simplicity is what gives their songs an addictive quality and lends their albums a spontaneous, live feeling. When it comes down to it, the simple “chi-chi-di-doo” hook (“I Think I Might Have Built a Horse”) and singing about “1969, Sid Vicious, Frankenstein” (“You Don’t Want Kids to Be Dead”) have always been present in some way on their previous releases, but Let the Poison Out forces them to own the territory they have been quietly marking as their own.

Essential Tracks: “You Don’t Want Kids to Be Dead”, “Doing As I Do”, and “Friends of Friends”


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