Beat Radio is an alt-Americana outfit heavily disguised as indietronica.
Since both genres are peaking right now, Safe Inside the Sound is eminently listenable. The winsome melodies, dressed up in synth progressions and digibeats, will tempt the melancholy onto the dance floor about half the time (and have them weeping into their drink the other half). Although Beat Radio identifies itself as a collective, the guiding force of the group appears to be Brian Sendrowitz, who racks up the majority of the "written, recorded, performed" credits. Mr. Sendrowitz crafts a sweet pop tune - most every track on Safe Inside the Sound could become your new favorite song. The real acid test of the album, however, is the singing of Mr. Sendrowitz. He worships at the altar of some other polarizing vocalists: J Mascis (QRO photos), Neil Young, Daniel Johnston (QRO live review). Either you get his style, or you don't, and that will make all the difference.
Safe Inside the Sound sells the indietronica hard for the first three tracks of the album. Opener "Follow You Around" is particularly impressive. A chorus of quasi-industrial synth sounds paints a picture of quiet emotional devastation - the perfect backdrop for Mr. Sendrowitz's heartbroken vocals - before exploding into a thunderous blitzkrieg of teenybopper transcendence and pitch-shifty solos.
After the initial electronic flourish, Beat Radio starts to gradually foreground the guitar over and above the synths. "Stranger Flowers" is straightforward, strummed folk-rock melancholia, albeit with digital beats. "Green Luxury Condo" drops the beat altogether in a reflective paean to the melody of "Amazing Grace". It's around this point in the album that you realize Beat Radio's influences are less MGMT, more the folk and country greats of yore. So when you hear "Hard Times for Dreamers" towards the end, with its moseying guitar, dusky lyrics and mandolin, you're hardly taken by surprise.
The transition from electronica to folky, rocky, country tunes is not always a smooth one in terms of the "narrative arc" of the album, though Mr. Sendrowitz's signature vocals and strong storytelling keeps everything on a steady course. In the final analysis, Beat Radio's Safe Inside the Sound is a bit of a bait-and-switch. But when the songs are this enjoyable, who cares?
Mike Gutierrez, QRO Magazine