Dub+Pop/Punk = “Spooks,” The Beautiful Girls Latest Release

Logan McMillen, Diversions Editor

“Hot pot,” Mat McHugh told me. His band (The Beautiful Girls) was like hot pot. An ancient Mongolian dish, hot pot is an egg dumpling that’s boiled in a soldier’s helmet. “Were not sound bite artists,” he said, “it takes awhile to fully understand the flavor of something.”

A clever combination of roots music, reggae, pop, and eighties punk, The Beautiful Girls (like hot pot) are a refined, acquired taste. “Collectively we like a lot of New Zealand reggae, Salmonella Dub, Kooii, all kinds of stuff, The Clash, The Specials, Bad Brains,” he said. Their latest album “Spooks” marks their departure from their Australian roots heritage as they go on to encompass a multi-genre approach.

The Beautiful Girls first release “Morning Sun” was a classic, underappreciated gem. A barely known band from Australia schooled Jack Johnson at his own game. “I didn’t think anyone would actually listen to it,” McHugh said in reference to Morning Sun, “but I guess people respond to the heart and soul of the music, so they can look past some other stuff.” The other stuff: poor production quality, warm audio, intimate feel, urgency — things that added to the popularity of the first album.

“Spooks” is much different than that, it feels like an extension of the electro-reggae remix of blackbird that was released on their fifth album “We’re Already Gone.” “A DJ friend of ours we went on tour with helped with that. That type of influence (electro) has always been there, but it hasn’t manifested in our music,” McHugh said, “there are only so many roads you can go down, if you want to go down one, you should try it.”

“Don’t Wait” is arguably The Beautiful Girls most famous song from “Spooks”. With a catchy intro riff and dramatic opening line, the song has you hooked. It moves from relaxed reggae pop to pseudo punk drum ‘n’ bass throughout. A buildup at the end of every chorus leaves you hanging.

The whole song leads you in and out of musical stasis, it’s stuck somewhere in the limbo between top 40 hit and a cool old record in your basement. Way different than what they used to play. “It’s all just a body of work (their catalogue), if you have an understanding of all our music, then the new album will make a bit more sense. That being said, people should be able to enjoy our songs without the pretext,” McHugh said. The new record is full of “Don’t Waits”, something that could theoretically leave their roots fans a bit disappointed.

In reference to the thematicism of the new album. McHugh said, “I don’t think there is any overt conceptual importance, but the songs all tie together, I wrote them all in the same frame of mind. It certainly isn’t a rock opera.”

The Beautiful Girls are playing at the triple rock on September 15, so if you’re 18 years old, and a fan of The Police, Ben Harper, The Clash, dub music, or any combination there of, I highly encourage you to go. “Minneapolis is the first place we ever played in North America,” McHugh said, “we played the State Theatre supporting Mason Jennings. It’s a special place to us.”