Fresh off of their late-night TV debut, Chicago-based rockers Beach Bunny released a four-song extended play (EP) “Blame Game” Jan. 15 to follow their debut album “Honeymoon” from February of last year.
The quartet has gone from playing basements in the Chicago suburbs to the Metro (3730 N. Clark St.) in seemingly record time, maturing quickly as musicians along the way. “Blame Game” is a clear demonstration that this growth has continued despite the lack of live performances.
Lead single and opener “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used)” is a wonderful example of the blueprint Beach Bunny has perfected to turn out hit song after another while still continuing to branch out.
Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Lili Trifilio’s ability to write catchy pop-rock songs is seemingly unmatched. She takes the best elements of pop songs and mixes them with clever, catchy lyrics meant to be sung back at her by at-capacity concert venues.
The song is also an introduction to Beach Bunny’s more aggressive side. The last 40 seconds are home to some of the group’s more assertive instrumentals, including a fill from drummer Jonathan Alvarado that’s sure to have listeners air-drumming.
The aggression is present throughout the EP, specifically in Trifilio’s lyrics. It continues later on the song “Nice Guys” where words aimed at self-proclaimed “nice guys” drive the angst of distorted guitar.
The titular closing track “Blame Game,” while initially reminiscent of Snail Mail’s song “Pristine,” is a high-point for the quartet — specifically Trifilio. It’s a showcase of how well the group gels while writing music and also displaying one of her most dynamic vocal performances to date.
The lyrics are a pungent take on the “blame game” that often comes in the fallout of sexual assault and harassment. Trifilio levels her sights on school dress codes, police officers and media portrayal of the victims and survivors of these crimes (“TV news interviews sayin,’ ‘She’s loose,’ / Police officer asks, ‘What’s she wearin’?”).
This is a new take on a lyrical theme that helped jettison Beach Bunny to their current prominence. Their 2018 song “Prom Queen” tackles physical insecurities whereas “Blame Game” takes a look at how blame is often shifted onto femme-presenting individuals for the crimes committed against them.
“Guess it’s my fault my body’s fun to stare at / Sorry my clothes can’t keep your hands from grabbing,” Trifilio sings on “Blame Game.”
The second track, “Love Sick,” sticks out from the other three for a number of reasons, though the most notable is its much lighter sound and more vulnerable subject matter.
The song’s lyrics fall much closer to the traditional heartbreak-and-love-centric nature of Beach Bunny’s past releases. It gives off the feeling that it’s a B-side from “Honeymoon” rather than a new one, though it will have listeners tapping their foot with catchy rhythm regardless.
“Told myself love is violent / Feelings fade and bitterness precedes / When you’re closer I don’t mind it / Secretly I want you close to me,” Trifilio sings on the track.
A more subtle change from their full-length album, which is best demonstrated on “Love Sick,” is in the mixing. The bass is more noticeable and it serves the tracks well by helping to beef up an already-solid rhythm section.
Beach Bunny’s rapid upward trajectory seems to have to no end in sight — and with hints of a second full-length record in the works — “Blame Game” is a solid addition to Beach Bunny’s discography and a good reason to stay tuned for whatever comes next from them.