There is the hint that something big is coming for Beaches, and that’s probably no accident.

There’s little hiding the fact that Beaches are one of the best guitar groups in Australia. The Melbourne five-piece’s rare live appearances are torrid affairs that draw in the listener with meaty washes of guitar sound, and then splutter-spit them unforgivingly out the other side.

Their self-titled debut in 2008 was a powerful announcement of intent, and the first indication that Melbourne producer (and friend of the band) Jack Farley was a talent to watch. After half a decade of waiting – with 2010’s excellent In A While 7” tiding fans over – Farley is back for their second record, and the combination has again produced a solid collection of tunes.

There are lush pop tracks like ‘Send Them Away’ and ‘Runaway’ that offer the requisite refrains that dip into more traditional song structures. The latter’s chaotic battle of a bridge is particularly enamouring – guitar lines slide over one another until the combined and insistent title vocals bring it home.

There’s also experimentation aplenty. ‘Veda’ has an Eastern backbone that sways without ever feeling like more than the sum of its parts. Michael Rother (Harmonia, Neu) adds another guitar to the nascent ‘Distance’, a track that doesn’t really require vocals. The short instrumental break in the middle muddies the guitar lines and intent of the band, and when drummer Karla Way’s vocals fade back in it feels like the attempt to create space has been crushed.

This is a solid record, and that judgement is only given because the standards they have set are so high. At times the combinations are near perfect, as on the Justin Fuller-featuring ‘Weather’ where spectral and distant vocals bleed into Way’s cacophonous percussion.

*** 1/2 out of five stars


She Beats is out now on Chapter.

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