Natural History, The: Beat Beat Heartbeat
Natural History, The: Beat Beat Heartbeat
Artist Natural History, The
Album Beat Beat Heartbeat
Label Startime International Records
Released 5/20/2003
Max and Julian Tepper are brothers, and The Natural History, their band with drummer Derek Vockins, is, in a word, awesome. Not in a burnt-out California-surfer way, although some of Max's vocal melodies put West Coast pop-punkery to shame (exhibit A: "The Right Hand"), but in the New York sense of the word -- an expression of admiration so sincere and spontaneous that the speaker forgets that it really isn't too cool to call things "awesome" anymore. But you can take your pick of adulatory adjectives to describe Beat Beat Heartbeat, The Natural History's debut album, which capitalizes on the strengths of the band's acclaimed self-titled EP -- the tight, powerful arrangements, the stubbornly catchy hooks, the walking-wounded lyrics -- and makes all of it work on another level. The Natural History is a New York band, which tells you a lot, but not everything. Today, Julian, Max, and Derek are based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and their group represents a New York that lots of locals will recognize: discordant, angular, often unpretty, but shot through with flashes of beauty. It's not the old "a tree grows in Brooklyn" thing. It's the beauty of hulking warehouses, bodega awnings, graffiti murals, and three-legged dogs haunting the wasted waterfront. It's the beauty of kids who could easily play art music but have more fun playing pop songs.