Sound — 8
For anyone approaching The Beauty School's debut album, "Sex, Drugs, And Candy", I entreat you to dump your knowledge of Jose's first release "Somewhere" from Stealing Carolina. Instead I want to trace out the peculiar way The Beauty School have approached sex, relationships, drugs and the other negative themes found in The Beauty School's music. Essentially a great collection of solo home recordings by Jose, The Beauty School's eponymous debut is a prodigious triumph. Driven by big heavy melodies and distorted guitars, Jose strongly recalls Deftones and Drake, but with a decidedly lighter approach. Whether it's the vigorous outbursts in "When Boys And Girls Break-Up" or the soothing more gentle "Chocolate", Jose offers you the best of both worlds in hip-hop and hard rock. Since Jose recorded the album by himself, they aren't as powerful as most band's primal sonic workouts, but for anyone listening, the results are still amazingly impressive for someone who is recording an album from his two-bedroom apartment. "Sex, Drugs, And Candy" begins with an intro, then followed by a fittingly song "Spit", which kicks-off the album with pure energy, heavy guitar melodies, great hooks and not-to mention Jose's soaring vocals layered on top of the song. "IL Shared M.X.D." is arguably the simplest track on the album, but only when it comes to achieving the new "total" aesthetic sound, but it is combined with powerful guitars and a great use of effects. When combining these two elements it transforms from an exercise in brutality to a ticking time-bomb, thanks to Jose's minimal but effective special effects. Jose's guitar playing is probably what is most intriguing on the album. His metal riffs are at times so heavy, you'll gain weight listening to them ("Paper Plastic Doll", "Spit"). His softer side shines over the album, with sweet and sexy guitars that moan through songs like "Chocolate" and the title track "Sex, Drugs, And Candy". The instrumentals in some songs are a core high-point, "Friday Night Murder", "Red Nails And Lipstick", and "Lovbite", are perfect examples of significant playing and blending of heavy sounds and haunting melodies with a gentle touch of effects.
Lyrics — 9
What review wouldn't be complete without lavish praise thrown on vocalist/guitarist Jose? Although, "Somewhere" showed an alternative/grungy voice that blended well with the music, it isn't until now that Jose grows wings and explores his range as a singer. The ballsy slurs and screams of "IL Shared M.X.D.", blend effortlessly into the wistful instrumentals. The howling in "Lovbite" is otherworldly. The haunting chorus of "Red Nails And Lipstick" has a certain spinal vibrato that takes an already genius song to an even more sublime place. Even though Jose's general style is rock/metal he also shows that his voice complements tracks that are hip-hop influenced very nicely, compared to songs of Drake. He is always perfectly in tune with how his vocals can absolutely transform a track. The result of these perfectly inspired and powerful vocals are equally amazing songs.
Overall Impression — 8
Despite the indulgent praise that can be attributed to any one instrumental performance, passage, or song, the crowning achievement of "Sex, Drugs, And Candy" may be its programming as an album, which really cements the new approach on how artists are recording their albums. The album begins with simpler realizations of this emergent style that focus on digging in the roots of early Deftones and hip-hop/rapper Drake. However, by the time you hear "When Boys And Girls Break-Up" and it rolls onto "Lovbit" something flips and the album is both heavy and melodic without being boorishly aggressive or wimpy. It's intense and visceral, but introspective and sensitive. The remainder of the album adds dimensions to this sound by exploring the way it functions in many different vibes and flavors - relentless: "Ex's And Oh's", sexy: "Sex, Drugs, And Candy" and creatively all the interludes; all with overwhelmingly positive results. By the end of the album, this sound is rendered so fully and beautifully that shows how versatile Jose is as an artist. "Sex, Drugs And Candy" is wild and serene, and overall and work of art. You can The Beauty School out on Facebook, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, and Tumblr. You can buy the album for $5.00 on Bandcamp as of Febraury 7th.