Review: Beach Bunny Deserve a Crown for Nostalgic ‘Prom Queen’ EP

Beach Bunny © john tuanqui
Beach Bunny © john tuanqui
When it comes to transparent songwriting and masterful musicality, Beach Bunny meet a royal standard with their ‘Prom Queen’ EP.

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For those who teeter between the banality of adolescence and burdens of adulthood — or crave music that elicits the same effect — Beach Bunny craft indie rock sing-alongs that are just as breezy and appealing as their name implies. The Chicago ensemble, fronted and founded by Lili Trifilio, provide a soundtrack for a drive down nostalgia lane in their new independently-released EP, Prom Queen.

Listen: ‘Prom Queen’ – Beach Bunny

The first EP to include band members Matt Henkels, Jonathan Alvarado and Aidan Cada, Prom Queen delves into Trifilio’s “sadgirl” storytelling with a bright, power-pop edge, blending elements of both surf and emo rock that results in a totally un-whiny collection of coming-of-age lamentations.

Prom Queen - Beach Bunny
Prom Queen – Beach Bunny

Opening/title track “Prom Queen” cuts to the chase as Trifilio croons about the crucial issue of whether or not she’s pretty enough. The lyrics prod at painful reminders as she woefully laments, “I was never cut out from prom queen,” suggesting via refined songwriting that maybe we never get over our high school insecurities, even by the time we’re college students.

Painkiller,” the EP’s fronting single, is one of Trifilio’s multiple standout moments in regards to clever lyricsmithing. The guitar-ripping, lovelorn jam unpacks a fresh wound that’ll have any listener reminded of their first heartbreak, complete with witty parallels between the ill-fated romance and medical procedures (most notably, cavities and reconstructive surgery) before transitioning into a swinging breakdown that pleads for pills.

After all this time, I start askin’ why I’m stayin’
Were you ever mine? Are we something that’s worth savin’?
Every conversation puts me back on medication
Sometimes, sorry’s just another word you’re sayin’
– “Painkiller,” Beach Bunny

Goodbye Summer 🙁“ isn’t Beach Bunny’s final Instagram caption before classes, but rather a wash of a midway interlude that leads into the revamped “6 Weeks.” Having previously appeared on Trifilio’s 2016 EP Animalism as an entirely-acoustic serenade, the updated rendition is amplified with dreamy, spiraling electric riffs that suddenly induce a sonic trance behind an echoing “Can we go back? Can we go back?” that yearn for the return of a long-gone lover.

And I’ve been replaying the same song for six weeks
Trying to figure out what you’re feeling
And I’ve been replaying the same song for six weeks
Trying to find a piece of your heartbeat
Can we go back? Can we go back? Can we go back?
– “6 Weeks,” Beach Bunny
Beach Bunny © 2018
Beach Bunny © 2018

Prom Queen wraps up on its rowdiest note with “Adulting,” an all-too-relatable ode to the pains of being almost 23. Trifilio’s vocals soar in unison over the syncopated guitar riffs, leading to the rioting bridges and chorus that curse her “mid-quarter life crisis” in a fashion that’s angsty without sounding overdone.  Just like impending age, “Adulting” throws a curveball by way of a slowed-down tempo towards the track’s end that revs back up just as suddenly for a final punch.

While Beach Bunny’s lyrics are undoubtedly a bummer, no moment in the fifteen minutes of Prom Queen comes off as a “woe-is-me” pity party. Instead, Trifilio expresses her doubts and dampers in ways that are earnest, compelling and sure to resonate with listeners over the EP’s sunshiney sound. When it comes to transparent songwriting and masterful musicality, Beach Bunny meets a royal standard with Prom Queen.

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:: stream/purchase Prom Queen here ::

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Prom Queen - Beach Bunny

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