CUL­TURE ABUSE broaden their hori­zons on colour­ful sec­ond LP

Kerrang! (UK) - - Reviews - JAMES MACKIN­NON

‘There wasn’t al­ways a place to go, but there was al­ways an ur­gent need to be­long,’ sang Ran­cid’s Tim Arm­strong on Jour­ney To The End Of The East Bay, be­fore ask­ing, ‘What you gonna do when ev­ery­body goes on with­out you?’ It of­ten seems eas­ier to leave than to be left be­hind, but Bay Dream finds Cul­ture Abuse’s David Kelling writ­ing from the op­po­site per­spec­tive. After re­leas­ing their Peach de­but in 2016, David left friends and fam­ily in San Fran­cisco to move down­stream to Los Angeles. Throw in sign­ing to Epi­taph and ship­ping across the At­lantic Ocean for the first time last year, and it’s lit­tle won­der that Bay Dream sounds caught in a blur be­tween nos­tal­gia for the past and hunger for the fu­ture.

Third track Dip fizzes with that par­tic­u­lar am­biva­lence. It may be pro­pelled along by stab­bing gui­tars, but be­tween home­sick­ness and tour in­er­tia David in­sists, ‘Time keeps drag­ging like a big slug, I get squashed like a big bug.’ Else­where, Rats In The Walls re­calls the band’s old pest-in­fested apart­ment in San Fran­cisco through the story of punk tear­away, Judy. Al­though David urges her to leave the nightlife and bed bugs be­hind, the jaunty fair­ground or­gan be­trays a bit­ter­sweet fond­ness for that time, be­cause things that drive you nuts are of­ten the same things that make you laugh when you catch sight of them in the rearview mirror.

Re­flect­ing this per­sonal dis­ori­en­ta­tion, Bay Dream takes the fuzzy sweet­ness of Peach and turns the colour sat­u­ra­tion up to 11. Eco-friendly para­ble Bee Kind To The Bugs is laid on con­crete rhythms, yet John Jr and Nick Bruder’s wob­bly gui­tars are drenched in sun-dazed psychedelia, David’s slacker drawl, mean­while, trails off with the urge to ‘Burn my clothes, sell my car, I fell in an­other world.’ Yet even at their most far-out and power-poppy, the Bay crew still re­tain their scrappy charm. Calm E is a streetwise punk-rock belter with its bark­ing dogs, bea­tup cars and bounc­ing power chords, but it’s just that more light is let in now for the melodies to bloom, as the bridge ex­plodes with wide-eyed won­der and hazy vo­cal har­monies, as if the band are float­ing off into a Tech­ni­color sky.

As a nos­tal­gic love let­ter to old haunts and fa­mil­iar faces, Bay Dream is a heart­felt re­minder that pur­su­ing a dream can take its toll. But if you’re lucky, those old friends will sup­port you, as David grins on S’why, ‘I feel you push­ing me for­ward to the place I wanna go.’ And in the re­sul­tant dizzy­ing whirl of kalei­do­scopic gui­tars and life mov­ing at 100 miles a minute, Cul­ture Abuse sound right at home.

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