Album Review: Beans on Toast – Knee Deep in Nostalgia

Knee Deep in Nostalgia is a great album, reminiscing about life living in London and the lessons Beans on Toast (Jay McAllister) has learned as he gets older. Written as an ode to himself, Beans’ has purposely coincided the release date with his own 40th birthday. He repeatedly states throughout the album that the songs are not about regrets or worries. That life is about remembering the good times and focusing on those memories and people that have made an impact on your life.

None of the songs were written during the pandemic. Beans has saved that unleash of raw emotion for the second album he releases on the same day The Unforeseeable Future. Knee Deep in Nostalgia is an open door into Beans’ first four decades on the planet. Each song tells a story about a part of his life. A melancholic meander through a nostalgic maze of memories and motivation.

The album contains the single released earlier this year, ‘The Village Disco’. In this anecdotal track, Beans talks about his mum and dad and the hall nearby where he grew up. The many parties, discos and memories he has of the place. A very pop-punk introduction to the album. You can imagine a mini Beans dancing with his childhood friends in the village hall. His mum’s words ringing in his ears, “someone’s gotta’ be the first one on the dancefloor”, as he relays the first catchy tune his dad taught him to whistle.

The album moves forward in a more country and western – punk style, with ‘What would Willie Do?’, and ‘No Need to be Frightened’. Beans talks about who he would like to be, who he is and questions spirituality in a fun, bouncy vibe. It’s like Willy Nelson meets the King Blues, with a sprinkling of weed.

The album mentions a long list of names from throughout Beans’ life. Opening a door to personal information about Beans himself. The lessons he has learned from his favourite teacher, an early girlfriend and an Australian guy named Beano. ‘Your Old Mate Beano’ is a witty ballad using so much brilliant Australian terminology even a kangaroo couldn’t skip it.

Family plays a big part in this album. With a third of the tracks heavily steeped in that delicious feeling you get when you allow yourself to remember when you were a kid and you were free to be innocent and contented, hanging out with your family. ‘The Album of the Day’, is a plucky, lullaby-esq guitar track starring his daughter. Released as a beautiful music video in November 2020. The track lists albums that have clearly meant something to Beans throughout his life. Hoping that something will “seep in”, Beans educates his daughter on the importance of trying “to avoid the greatest hits, coz the real world comes with album tracks”. A true sentiment from a true musician dad.

The last two tracks of the album are dedicated to London, to friends, to Camden and to being happy. Bringing in a whole bag of instruments, raining a party vibe over the album’s grand finale. Accordion, saxophone and tambourines shower the listener in delightful sound. Until you feel soaked to the bone with musical madness. Allowing yourself to drift into like-minded nostalgia of friendships and festivals, gigs and week-long parties.

It is difficult at the moment, to see a world free from lockdown and prohibitions. But this album is a reminder of all things normal and excellent with the world. Stuff that everyone can’t wait to get back to. The love of family, the importance of teachers and the unity of friendship. Even though this album was entirely written before coronavirus, it is like feeding that hungry voice in your head that has kept jabbering on all year long. The internal need to go and see the people you love, but the impossibility for that to happen. This album brings it all out in the open and says – its ok to be nostalgic. Life is great, and memories teach us how to grow up. Its clear that this album is meant to be seen as a warm escape from the current tumultuous situation we are living in. It stands parallel to ‘The Unforeseeable Future’. As a fond comment on the past, rather than a disenchanted but hopeful view of the future.

I don’t know if its because I, like Beans, grew up in Essex, knee-deep in the party scene, moved to London and have just turned 30, But this album rings true to me. Perhaps it’s the same story for everyone, as they grow older, they watch things change, venues close and people move away. It’s easy to see how each musing track could slot into someone’s memory repertoire. All those gigs and parties, new friends and festivals. Before you know it it’s over and you feel like an old guy, talking about the good old days.

This album is due for release on Tuesday 1st December 2020 via BOTMusic. Produced by Beans’ longtime friend Frank Turner. The album features Frank playing, as well as other musical talents such as Matt Hensley (Flogging Molly), Matt Nasir (Sleeping Souls) and Guise and Anna Jenkins (The Red Clay Halo). Bringing to the album a real sense of that ecstatic abandonment that can only be found at a great music festival.

Knee Deep in Nostalgia is available from Tuesday 1st November 2020, alongside The Unforeseeable Future. Read Jess’ review of The Unforeseeable Future

Article by Jess Milner
Photo by Aaron Parsons

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