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The Ugly Beats – Motor! (Get Hip)

The Ugly Beats Motor!
16 November 2010

With garage rock, critical judgment is almost irrelevant. For one part of the rock audience, the often slavish devotion to the sounds of the past is a hindrance, evidence of stunted creative growth. But another part of the audience would rise up in arms if a garage rock act showed any inclination to evolve – they have no use for the bands if they don’t sound like long-lost artifacts from 1965.

So it’s best, when casting a critical eye on a garage rock band’s latest work, to set aside one’s philosophical faculties and simply ask the questions: are the songs any good? In the case of Motor, the third album from the Ugly Beats, the answer is a definite “Yes.” The Austin quintet hasn’t expanded the boundaries of its jangle-heavy garage pop sound, but it has sharpened its songwriting skills considerably. The pop-rocking “Harm’s Way,” “All Comes Back” and “Things I Need to Know” boast terrific melodies and thoughtful lyrics, while “See” and the lovely “World Has a Ways to Go” spotlight the band’s folk rocking ballad side to wonderful effect. Overall the group is on such a tunesmithing roll that Neil Diamond‘s “You’ll Forget” is easily the least affecting track here. The Ugly Beats haven’t yet made that quantum leap into a timeless sound, but on Motor they’re simply a pure pleasure to hear.