When you are in a punk band from the West Coast of America, your inspiration is usually somewhat different to that of your East Coast counterparts; you have the sun, sea, surf and suds as motivation, it’s less about the politics and more about the party! From just one look at the front cover of Margate’s fourth album Beards In Paradise, designed by prominent skateboard artist Jimbo Phillips, it’s pretty clear that it’s an easy going pop punk album! In the foreground is a bearded hula girl bobble-head adorning the front of a car’s dashboard and in the distance a beautiful and serene setting sun is going down over the deep blue surf. There may be exceptions to the difference in the East/West Coast punk vibes but California’s Margate are definitely not it!
Beards In Paradise, the band’s fourth album and second on NOFX member El Hefe’s Cyber Tracks label, is a 10 track, 22 minute affair and is almost unrelenting in its good time positivity. There are occasions when an album is released at the perfect time, and for this writer who lives in Scotland, a country that rarely witnesses what others would call summer, this album fairly brightened up the days with its infectious carefree content and laid back ethos!
After a very brief album intro, Beards In Paradise kicks off with ‘The Unsilent Majority’ and summer truly begins in earnest! Instantly the music takes you back to that mid-90s Epitaph/Fat Wreck sound that inspired so many resulting bands and is a fantastic start to the record. Over the years Margate’s sound has evolved into this catchy and happy go lucky brand of pop punk and it is all the better for it!
The tracks come at you thick and fast and next up is a cover song by fellow, and now defunct, Californian pop punkers Blue Collar Special called ‘Want It All’ and the track’s lyrics read like a Veruca Salt punk rock wish list. This is actually one of two covers on Beards In Paradise, the second being by another now defunct Californian punk band Madcap. The track ‘Keep Dancin”, like ‘Want It All’, is very similar to the original and seeing that the two original songs were so good, it wouldn’t make much sense to tamper; if you don’t know these two bands already then go forth and discover.
‘I’m Your Destiny’ is another song that really showcases the band’s mid 90s Epi/Fat sound, a fast paced 37 second track that calls to mind No Use For A Name as much as anything! ‘Rock Out With Your Clock Out’ is the superbly named anti-work anthem; the art of clock watching as it ticks down to home time, something most can relate to! Another relatable track, to people in bands at least, is ‘Crowd Goes Mild’; a fun track that tips its cap to those less successful gigs where nobody turns up; although if Margate keep producing such catchy punk rock, I can’t see them having too many more shows like that. The album ends with ‘Never Known’, a pondering ballad about life and its duration and it’s really the only time on the album where Margate slow things down and get serious resulting in a nice musing finish to what was before such a happy record.
The only real downside is that Beards In Paradise is a little on the short side with only 9 actual songs on the album with two of those being covers; although it should be underlined that this is only a complaint due the songs that made it onto the record being of such a high standard, it would be nice to get a few more songs of original Margate goodness. Margate are getting better with each and every album and Beards In Paradise is a very fine record indeed, it even makes it seem sunny in Scotland, and that says a hell of a lot!