Domenic Marcantonio snarls and spits like Elvis Costello tearing apart a room looking for his fucking glasses.
Ian Olvera might be Milwaukee’s premiere purveyor of pop, a thoughtful songwriter whose not embarrassed by the joys of a great hook.
Beach Patrol’s third album, “Daytime Highs,” oscillates between Marcantonio’s scorching frustrations and Olvera’s more temperate ruminations, with a few sparkling 80-degree in-betweeners as well.
Marcantonio’s is the dominant voice, and the song titles -- “Feel My Frustration,” “Now or Never Night,” “Language of Lies” -- give you a good idea of the angst and desperation banging around in his skull. “I may be your dummy but I ain’t your marionette!” he sneers on “Marionette,” the blues-verging-on-punk opener, and also the most wound-up track on the album. The rest of the songs settle into a more comfortable, up-tempo, Olverian pop-rock groove, but Marcantonio can’t be sated. Even when professing his love, on bended knee no less, on “Inevitably,” he sounds like the feeling is just about ripping his guts out. I don’t know anything about Beach Patrol’s songwriting dynamics, but Marcantonio brings an interesting intensity to the sound I associate with Olvera’s more mellow records. And on the flip-side, Olvera softens Marcantonio’s bite without muting his passion, harmonizing with him on “Stormy Waters,” maybe the disc’s finest moment, revealing a sensitivity that the more aggressive tracks bowl over.
“Daytime Highs” is at its best when Olvera and Marcantonio are nudging each other out of their respective comfort zones, whether musically or lyrically. Olvera is one of my absolute favorite Wisconsin musicians, and “Too Late” is a great song, but it’s out of place here, more of a piece with Olvera’s own 2010 record with the Sleepwalkers, “The Reckless Kind” (highly, highly recommended). Marcantonio’s “Bend Don’t Break” sounds like something Tom Petty wrote in his sleep and thought better of in the morning -- it’s competent but uninspired. Drippy piano ballad “Secret” follows those two, and it really feels like the album has run out of gas until “Inevitably” and “My Sunny Day” get Olvera and Marcantonio back in the same room for a strong finish.
Sunny and 80. That sounds about perfect to me.
Joey Tayler is the lead writer on Rocksposure.com. Based out of Milwaukee, WI, he is always looking for a new show to see. If there is something you think he should be listening to, send him an email at JoeyT@Rocksposure.com