Dirty Beaches is the ’50s-influenced project from Alex Zhang Hungtai. The second half of his upcoming album Badlands (March 29) is, in his own words, “filled with ballads and dirges laced with murder and lament.”
“Sweet 17,” however, is from the album’s first side, which Hungtai describes as “all bangers.” The track, which you can listen to here, doesn’t disappoint. A jittery, Suicide-reminiscent number, “Sweet 17” finds Dirty Beaches twisting his hiccuped croon into a disquieting, nearly unintelligible strangle; the ominous echo of the song is the perfect soundtrack to realizing you’ve hitched a ride from the wrong driver on a dark, desolate highway.
Also check out side two’s “Lord Knows Best,” which shows off the funereal shades of Hungtai’s baritone and comes off like a fusion of Songs of Love and Hate-era Leonard Cohen and wide-eyed, prom ballad yearning.