I get to hear this "cult classic" at last, having heard people talking about it for twenty years or more now. It is powerful stuff - from the first bars there are intricate arrangements and a weighty guitar sound (I especially liked the slide player lurking in the mix). Many of the songs, like the opener Huh!, are exhilarating and quick on their feet. You can hear things clearly. Credit to producer and engineer - it must be tough to record and produce dense, fast-paced guitar music like this.
One of the best known facts about the Blue Aeroplanes is that they were closely associated with REM during the late 80s and early 90s. I wonder sometimes if the influence cuts both ways. On this album, sometimes I feel I hear echoes of REM albums like Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi which were recorded AFTER Beatsongs. (For example, listen to "Wake-up bomb" from the latter album after hearing Beatsongs ...)
Blue Aeroplanes are sometimes referred to as art rockers. Perhaps some of their other output is more experimental or "edgy" than this, but Beatsongs to me is extremely competent, guitar-heavy mainstream '90s rock with a strongly American accent - in fact, I would never have guessed on a first hearing that the band was actually British! Perhaps the fact that this album was recorded and produced in the US helps explain this.
I can imagine that Blue Aeroplanes are a knock-out live act. I am not quite convinced that this CD captures their onstage energy and inventiveness but I still enjoyed it and I'll go on listening to it. The stand-out track for me is Paul Simon's The Boy In The Bubble - almost a pre-echo of the bruised guitar-laden majesty of Radiohead's The Bends which was to follow a few years later.