The English Beach is an abstract portrait of Dungeness, written by Ho during time spent living there. The album, Ho's second as Broken English Club after Suburban Hunting, is a response to the psychogeography of the place—the narrative, both real and imaginary, hidden beneath its geology. The eerie ambience and the contradictions of Dungeness, along with the conflicting metaphor of the British seaside itself—a place at once filthy, ruinous and comforting—are all in play across the record.
Ho once said he liked the "dark friction" between man and machine, and Broken English Club is where that happens. The metal music, the bands of his youth, Ho's art school origins and conceptual tendencies—they jut out at angles here, unified by a signature Broken English Club sound. It's weathered and industrial, harsh but oddly endearing—the sonic equivalent of Dungeness itself. There's a grinding presence throughout, too, which takes a notably physical form in "Plague Song"'s dings, scrapes and metallic cries.
As with Suburban Hunting, Ho dips into three core music styles—techno, industrial and droning dirges. The English Beach peaks when traces of all three (or more) inform a single track, as on "The Sun Rising" or "Pylon." There's a clear divide between club and experimental tracks, the latter of which are really out there. Take the stinging spoken word of "Stray Dogs" or the folky "Rust Ballad," where the melancholic voice of Blood Powers billows over snarling riffs and ominous slams. These, along with the booming "Concrete Desert," are Ho at his most theatrical. The English Beach, a penetrating portrait of Dungeness, is one of his finest Broken English Club records yet.