If you think of the breakout stars of Brooklyn’s garage-pop/no-fi scene as a family — Vivian Girls and Woods as successful, well-established parents, Blank Dogs’ Mike Sniper as the creepy but creative uncle, and so on — then the Beets would be the spoiled, bratty teenagers. Their debut, Spit In The Face of People Who Don’t Want To Be Cool, its title an indicator of the flippant tunes found within, offers 12 tracks in under 24 minutes (including an unlisted bonus cut) and maintains resolutely lo-fi production values throughout. Your average snotty teenager often gets by on pure charm, though, and this is the Beets’ greatest quality. The record feels like the album you and your high school buddies could have and probably should have made (given the outsized attention the Captured Tracks/Woodsist family is receiving) before you went off to college and things got complicated.
Take the lovely “For You,” a plaintive recitation of devotion that is more bromance than romance, or the lazily perfect “Why Should I Live If I Won’t Fit.” So many musicians running in the same circles as the Beets are trying to seem like they don’t care but are actually working very hard (consider omnipresent drummer Frankie Rose, jumping between half a dozen projects while maintaining a dispassionate exterior behind her Ray-Ban’s); the Beets simply don’t care. It’s not a put-on, it’s just the truth. This approach has its drawbacks, however, and means that a record as long as an episode of Seinfeld has more than its fair share of misfires: “No Blood” is 55 seconds of inexplicable warbling stuck right in the middle of the album.
Spit In The Face is the best evidence yet that an aesthetic built around worshipping the sweet appeal of two-and-a-half-minute pop gems destined for 7-inch singles and compilations quickly turns into monotony on a full-length record. The bass-heavy sound of the Beets, with their early Television Personalities-esque monotone vocals and rudimentary chord progressions, works great for one or two songs — and is even more fun live — but it wears out its welcome over an entire record. As modern avant-rock aesthetics careen further toward a complete negation of production values or even basic talent (Psychedelic Horseshit being a prime example), the inconsistent nature of the Beets’ debut serves as a reminder that a little effort goes along way.