“Blame Game”– EP Review

Lets face facts: with trends changing in the blink of an eye, and collective attention spans gradually shrinking, modern music is evolving at a rate that is just about too fast for every modern listener to keep up.

 

Creativity has to move at lightning speeds just to keep up with consumer demand. This trend is exponentially magnified during a global pandemic, where music becomes ever more important to those trapped in their homes and isolated from their normal social outlets.

 

The result of this seemingly exponential pace is that music always has to change. Every artist must constantly find new sounds, new messages, and new ways to reach an ever more impatient audience. But behind every instant of progress comes a wave of longing and nostalgia. Many music fans, especially those who grew up on the simple catchy melodies of Maroon 5 and Train that dominated the early 2010s pop scene, are left missing these old sounds, at least I know I am.

 

When it comes to satiating the nostalgic hunger of the Gen Z melophile, indie rock band Beach Bunny provides the perfect solution with their new EP “Blame Game.”

The Chicago-based quartet came out swinging in 2020, with their debut album “Honeymoon” fusing Lili Trifilio’s bedroom pop sound and instantly relatable lyricism with the classic instrumentation of a four-piece band. “Blame Game”, released on January 15th, solidifies the band’s power-pop sound and shows an evolution in lyricism and storytelling indicative of increased maturity, all wrapped up in a bouncy and playful aesthetic reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons that appeal to everyone from fans of emo and pop-punk to TikTok addicts.

 

The first single “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used)” already lays out all the cards, showcasing Triflio’s brutally honest and universally relatable lyrical style. With an opening line like “Say you miss me, say you wanna kiss me”, you already know you are in for a ride.

 

The song is bursting with petulant energy, propped up by lines such as “you’re acting like a deadbeat dad” and “I’m tired of dumb boy talk” which is just too cute. Trifilio is not afraid to show her maturity, every once in a while yanking the listener into the adult world with lyrics such as “I wanna hangout but you’re busy hunting down a booty call”. All of this is wrapped up in a 90s Beach-Pop pop beat chock full of “ohs” and “ahs” that takes me back to the music I grew up on.

 

The EP effortlessly transitions into the second track “Love Sick”. In this song, Triflilio isn’t afraid to be brutally vulnerable, speaking to the not-so-sugarcoated aspects of love. Every single person can relate to being “Sick of love” and “tired of the bullshit”. The slower and heavier instrumental of this track is bursting with cymbal crashes and powerful snare hits that make the song truly anthemic.

 

To put it plainly, lyricism is masterfully simplistic, playing with the notion of lovesickness and omitting the title of the song from the end of the chorus in order to always leave us wanting more. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the track ends with a clamorous outro, with Triflio proclaiming that “I’m getting sick of patching myself up”, a sentiment I can guarantee every person who has struggled with love has felt.

 

Trifilio shows a different side of her lyrical style with the third track on the EP “Nice Guys”. The tone of the EP shifts, with Triflio projecting her feelings outward and expressing raw anger. The effortless creativity that permeates the EP is on full display, with lyrics such as “If your ego had a zip code, it would be a whole statewide” that is almost comedic. Trifilio flips the script, crying out that she’s “sick of nice guys” who are only interested in sex. The beat is very similar to the track before it, with a slow walking tempo propping up Trifilio’s high pitched vocals.

 

Perhaps the most interesting lyric is “You win me like a trophy, not a consolation prize”. This line is thrown around constantly in this track, flipping archaic gender norms on their head with Trifilio proclaiming that she wants to be won. I will admit that the intentions of that line still puzzle me, but that only goes to show how thought-provoking Trifilio can be.

Blame Game-Beach Bunny

The EP reaches its climax with its whimsical concluding title track “Blame Game”. Taking a break from the slower tempos of “Love Sick” and “Nice Guys”, this track starts far more uptempo, providing an exciting conclusion to this four-song journey. The differences from the rest of the EP don’t end there, as Beach Bunny concludes the EP with the only song that isn’t about relationships. Instead, Trifilio turns to the bigger picture, offering a scathing critique on Rape culture and the oppression of women in modern society.

 

This track, while less playful than the first three, is far more blunt and honest, which only adds to its reliability. What it lacks in wordplay it makes up for in realism and vulnerability. The song is teeming with brutal critiques such as “Guess it’s my fault my body’s fun to stare at, Sorry my clothes can’t keep your hands from grabbing Yeah, it’s my problem, I’m asking for it”. Trifilio truly isn’t afraid to use her music to absolutely annihilate common patriarchal arguments, while empowering just about every woman who listens to this song.

 

It’s not afraid to say what everyone is thinking, with lines like “Posters and TV Tell me my body is for others’ satisfaction” attacking the fundamentals of modern culture. The instrumental could not possibly suit the lyrics better, shifting between uptempo rock for the verses and half time anthemic bursts for the chorus, in order to encapsulate the dichotomy between Trifilio’s internal and external dialogues.

CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 01: Lili Trifilio of Beach Bunny performs on day one of Lollapalooza at Grant Park on August 1, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Overall, I would rate this album a solid 8.5/10. If anything, its greatest strengths are also its greatest weaknesses, with some moments feeling oversimplified and childish. The EP would greatly benefit from just a touch of musical intricacy and modern innovation, just to make it feel a bit more timely.

 

None of this takes away from the beautifully nostalgic tapestry painted by Beach Bunny in only four songs. “Blame Game” is the brutally honest message of a singer who is truly in touch with her emotions in a way that is almost jarringly relatable to just about anyone. Perhaps the most genius part of the album is the fusion of heavy themes with simple and almost childish aesthetics.

 

Honestly? The cover art says it all. From the first second of the first track, I was transported to a simpler world filled with arcades, cartoons, and real conversations, and if there is anything we could all use right now, it’s a little bit more simplicity.

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