Bonfire Beach’s debut album Lit is a high-octane musical amalgamation of garage rock and dream pop left out to bake in the desert sun. It’s the sound of gazing at the hazy city skyline from Cahuenga Peak. It’s the sound of scoring some shit down on Sunset. In short, it’s the sound of Los Angeles and it doesn’t take long for Lit to demand attention. The garage pop swagger of the album opener “Spit U Out” bursting out of the speakers is one of the more memorable album openers in years. The combination of sunburnt guitar riffs and singer Dexy Valentine’s sensuous cooing isn’t necessarily a new sound, but the band approaches their sound with such carefree ease that it’s easy to forget that you’ve heard the same thing before. Tracks like “London Boys” and “House of Love” largely follow the same format yet never get tiring in their relative simplicity.
While the harder-edged tracks make Lit a fun record, it’s the flirtations with experimentation and different styles that really sets Bonfire Beach apart from others. The feedback drenched “Electric Ocean” showcases a different dynamic, complete with synthesized flourishes and drum machines that sounds straight out of the ’80s. Imagine Debby Harry dropping a ten-strip of acid and jamming with a psychedelic band and you’ll get the idea. Likewise, “Bells (Hollywood Forever Reprise)” provides a gorgeous, string accompaniment to the more straight up “rock” version of the song. But perhaps the best moment on the album is “Red Sun” which sees the band incorporate all of the elements throughout Lit to create a dizzying, sexy and haunting song.
Really, there is little to find fault in with Lit. Musically, it retains enough rudimentary pop elements to keep casual listeners intrigued, while there is also plenty of “meat on the bones” so to speak. Sure, Dexy Valentine’s musings and allusions to Los Angeles may get a little strenuous at points (especially for those of us that don’t really give a shit about L.A.), yet that doesn’t change the fact that her knack for singing a great melody is top-notch. All of those elements combine to create a surprisingly sunny and promising debut album from Bonfire Beach.