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A Beacon School - "Cola" | Album Review


by Jorge Ivan Velez (@funnylinkedin)

Every winter in the Northeast, there is one day in the middle of February where spring will peak its head in. Among days of single digit degree chill, there is a brush of 60 degree weather that comes completely out of the blue. It comes too unexpectedly to really make concrete plans with anyone, but at the very least, one can sit outside and crack open a cold beverage, basking in the beautiful day. Sipping on the beverage makes it feel as if one hasn’t been sitting inside for months, but rather that the blue sky and gentle breeze are the norm of the every day. Every day can be the refreshing, familiar sip of a Cola, an appropriately named record for New York’s A Beacon School’s new record out now on Grind Select; an experience that is altogether new but feels surprisingly familiar.

A Beacon School is the solo work of multi-instrumentalist Patrick J. Smith, who among his many projects, uses this record as an outlet for unadulterated creative expression. The record’s opener “Algernon,” an airy and fun math pop song, layers riffs on top of riffs to create an absolutely feel good song, in the way the instruments speak to each other one senses how free Smith must’ve felt writing the song. The chitter chatter of instruments is like eavesdropping on a conversation: the back and forth of guitar lines intertwined with raging bass lines and upbeat drums feel like the inner mechanisms of Smith’s factory-like mind. All the parts work in conjunction to create beautiful moments.

Not every idea on this record feels fully fleshed out - and that’s the kind of perfect part about it. That just makes it more like the brush of spring in the dead of winter, it’s the surprise of something unfinished and fleeting. Songs like “It’s Late” and “Hum” feature splashes of electronic hums, dreamy acoustic guitars and hushed whispers which showcase Smith’s indulgence into just trying out new ideas to explore a particular creative headspace. Some songs end before their necessary finish line, as if Smith is telling the listener that’s enough of that before immediately jumping into the next song idea.

In that way, this record is an untainted exploration of the unconscious artistic self. The culmination of structure meets reaction is best shown on album closer “Ash,” where Smith cuts himself off to sing ooo’s after saying, “it’s good to coexist”. That line serves apt enough to complete Smith’s thought, and just let his mind wander into soft cooing, as if somewhere in the psyche exists the right line, so long as he continues playing, his muse will show up and finish the rest. As we enjoy the nice weather, we pretend it lasts forever, sipping a cola and considering the ways these sorts of daydreams can usurp our reality.