There's a something a bit campy about the buzzy, ominous music of Vancouver-based musician Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches. Like director Terrence Malick's 1973 road flick of the same name, this Badlands is an unhinged, romantic ode to the 50s greaser - a tribute to a tribute.
Spilt evenly between "ballads and dirges," it sounds like Hungtai absorbed 30 years of musical and cinematic reimaginings of the decade and its youth subculture - the Cramps, Suicide, Blue Velvet, Kenneth Anger - affixed a pompadour on top and distilled it all through a dingy, lo-fi filter that's playing on a broken record player in the next room.
The duality of 50s society is a well-worn theme, but there's something satisfyingly visceral in Hungtai's discordant celebration. Under 30 minutes long, Badlands is a short burst of concentrated energy that gradually slides into less compelling instrumental murk.
Top track: Sweet 17