Dirty Beaches are soaked in the gloriously cryptic and forlorn. This faded, '50s-indebted pop is assembled and performed by Alex Zhang Hungtai, a single soul who spends Beaches shows tinkering with loops, a guitar, a mic, and other instruments. (These tools are often borrowed from other musicians.) As someone who has lived in a variety of places — Taiwan, Montreal, Toronto, Honolulu, and now Vancouver — Hungtai imbues his work with the restlessness of a perpetual wanderer. His upcoming album, Badlands, has been heavily shaded by the array of offbeat people he has met in his travels. When he sings, his voice is like that of a ghost beaten down by life — maybe Jim Morrison trying to impart a transcendental secret that can emerge only against craggy, sunken pop. Even his press photos hold a sense of mystery that feels desperately real. Lo-fi loneliness doesn't get more fascinating than this.
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