The first couple times I listened to Beat Mark’s Howls of Joy album, as much as I enjoyed it, something was nagging at me. Not the songs but the overall sound was distantly familiar.
Then, on the third playing, I got it: some of their stuff is not a million miles distant from my beloved Jesus and Mary Chain’s “noise pop” sound. That got me headed down the right track, so, when I looked up what others were saying about them, I wasn’t surprised to see even My Bloody Valentine mentioned by way of analogy, although to my ears Beat Mark are way too melodic to make that comparison very useful.
They Sound British. No? American?
Wrong again. Beat Mark is a young French band, and the story of their discovery made me recognize another possible influence, at least a definite similarity. Cornershop’s Tjinder Singh discovered them on a trip to France: “I was in Paris during a heat wave - a friend took me to a little record shop [and] asked the shop owner to play Beat Mark and I realized that I was listening to what England had lost the ability to create anymore.” So Singh released the album on the Ample Play label that he and Cornershop bandmate Ben Ayres run, giving the band a much wider audience.
The Connection Is. . . .
Well, think of the few songs on the first Cornershop album, Hold On It Hurts, that venture into “noise pop” territory – notably “Tera Mera Pyar,” the one with the heavily distorted guitar and the Peter Hook-y bassline. Was this album an influence on Beat Mark? I don’t know. But they share with Cornershop and the Jesus and Mary Chain a gift for melody, and the two men and two women in the group somehow capture the fun of classic pop music while putting a new spin on it.
I challenge you to get through the video below without finding a goofy grin on your face. This is a band comfortable with the idiom of the three-minute pop song, a band that knows how to get in there, grab your ears, and get out again, leaving the melodies lingering. I’ll be waiting eagerly for their next album.