By rights, this album from British trio the Wave Pictures shouldn't work. At its heart it's made of up two very different, opposing strands: On one hand there are the mundane, dear-diary lyrics, delivered in the casual, naïve style favoured by indie bands since time immemorial. On the other hand there's the forceful, stripped-down power trio behind these lyrics, eager to stretch out and play hard. These two tendencies rarely play well together, but the Wave Pictures' rumpled charm and studied diffidence act as the glue; the result is an immediately ingratiating album with a lot more underneath the surface than meets the eye.
Their deliberate sense of amateurism, which ripples throughout the album, does an artful job of concealing a great deal of craft: they may sound off-the-cuff, but songs as perfectly formed as "Two Lemons, One Lime" (with its lovely bass solo) and the suburban-longing ache of "Epping Forest" (which shows just how sneakily talented lead guitarist and singer David Tattersall really is) don't just fall out of the sky. Their three-piece minimalism works in an offhand way: The moody solo that expands "Now Your Smile Comes Over In Your Voice" seems to add to the song rather than be tacked on to it, for instance, while the title cut is haunted by an insistent, gloriously spare instrumental figure. Schoolboy charm is easy to nail, and they provide that in spades, but what makes Beer In the Breakers stick are subtler, harder pleasures: learning how to use space in the music to their advantage, letting the material breathe, upping tensions and sustaining moods. It's something few bands master; those that manage it have something special. Like this album.