Its been a few years since we last had a release from The Beautiful Girls, while Mat McHugh has spent some time on a solo jaunt Danechall Days is the first release from the band since 2010’s Spooks.

With the album taking in influences such as dub, dancehall and reggae we asked McHugh to give us a track by track run down of the LP. What follows is in-depth look into what inspired and influenced Dancehall Days.

Dancehall Days is out today (October 3rd).

The Beautiful Girls Are Dead

“This one’s just a traditional Buddhist chant which is like a blessing. It’s a play on people asking whether the Beautiful Girls were broken up. I thought it was pretty stupid all the questions I had to answer about the whole thing, so it was just kind of making fun of that. I got tired of answering the questions, so I decided to write that and whether you wanna say we’re broken up or we’re together or we’re a band or we’re like a… dance troop, I don’t care.”

Until My Kingdom Comes

“Musically, there are influences on this track from Ernest Ranglin with the whole ska rock steady piano thing and there’s a lot of musical styles that I’m interested in that make their way into these tracks. The clapping is lifted from those old soul RnB tracks that have stuff like that. I wrote the basic sketches of the horn lines where the melodies are and then just let the guys we have in playing horns have free rein over it, they could do whatever they wanted.”


“I wanted to kind of make a song that was kind of like an old Womack and Womack song. We’ve been covering ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ on the tour and it’s got that kind of ‘60s girl group melody over those kind of songs that I like. ‘60s girl groups sing about lost love and love gone wrong and all that and I kind of wanted to update it with a bit of a pseudo disco dance hall mix, which is kind of a weird idea I guess. All the styles of music I mash up together… I really like them, I’m not doing it for a science experiment, I really like that stuff. So I guess Stars is a mash up between ‘60s girl groups and studio 54 era disco and kind of ‘80s dancehall mashed together with your typical love gone wrong kind of vibe.”


“That one kind of began with this really simple chord progression. I like chord progression that (and this is the dub and dancehall influence) don’t have too many changes. Not like Western pop music where the chord progressions follow the melody, I like stuff that’s just incessant. Incessant rhythms and then you drop stuff in and out over the top so the groove’s constant. There’s a dub influence in that way; it’s a really simple structure harmonically and then stuff coming in and out over the top. It’s like ideas floating through your head. ‘Sounds on the wind’ was kind of the idea of it.”

Real Love

“This is gonna sound really cheesy, but I love these styles of music. I’m a huge fan of like reggaeton and that stuff you hear all over South America and the Caribbean, which is a lot of Dancehall and reggaeton, which is super polished poppy stuff that you hear coming out of every disco and every car. It’s kind of in a way horrible, but it’s kind of really cool too. I’m a big fan of Vibes Cartel and Elephant Man and a lot of those kind of modern dancehall guys and their poppy stuff… They just kind of stretch out the form.

There’s a certain rhythm to the music that’s the backbone of their songs but then they stretch it out and that style is just kind of implied. So I wanted to have a full on commercial old school RnB melody… like an Earth Wind and Fire chord progression with an underlying dance hall rhythm, but without the heavy percussion element. So the whole song doesn’t really have a kick drum, it’s just got a snare drum sample. It’s super minimal, there’s hardly anything going on in there. So I wanted to make a really poppy song, but not produce it in a really poppy way. I wanted to make it super raw and super stripped back and make it a bit more menacing. It’s kind of an old RnB chord progression in a menacing reggaeton way… Fuck, no wonder they don’t play it on the radio!”

Me I Disconnect From You

“This is a Gary Newman song, and this song was via a version that I heard on a bootleg of Grace Jones’s record, so it’s kind of an updated version of that song.”

Dancehall Days

“This song is influenced, again, by that whole poppy reggaeton/reggae thing, with a little bit of hip hop thrown in.

There was a period there when reggae first went digital where a lot of really cool reggae pop singles came out of the UK. Around that time there was this mix of reggae and pop and it infiltrated the charts in this crazy way; this group called Althia and Donna had this big song called ‘Up Town Top Ranking’ and it was a huge hit. I’m not like a rootsy reggae guy, I don’t listen to a lot of Bob Marley or all the stuff people assume you listen to when you say you like reggae. I listen to either the super poppy reggae or like the super scratchy punky The Clash kind of reggae.

So Dancehall days is like my attempt at really poppy kinda hard-hitting reggae song with a catchy melody and some synths. Most of these songs have lazer sounds on them as well. I kind of had this epiphany one night where I thought I should put lazer sounds on the songs.”


“Survival’s like musically influenced heavily by Detroit techno. This is probably gonna be a pretty divisive one, this’ll probably test out people’s perceptions of me.

I don’t really listen to much acoustic guitar music, and I love dance music and I love electronica and all that stuff, especially early styles of that music, when it first popped up. In that era, it’s a bit easier now with computers, but in those early Detroit techno days they had maybe a 909 drum machine, some old soul records and maybe a few synths and they just made this really raw punky tough sounding dance tracks.

They were almost like soul music; as raw as dance music gets. There was nothing commercial about it, they were just like ‘let’s put on some tracks to keep people dancing all night’, and there were some legendary parties that popped up around that time. It’s just a cool movement, as cool as early punk or early dub or early hip hop, people just got switched on to this thing and it’s always magical before it turns into a scene and it’s on the radio or the television or whatever and it becomes something different.

So this song is really influenced by that; there’s a particular kind of rhythmic catch in it where it jerks around it a bit rather than that straight four on the floor. I’ve always wanted to do a track like that that’s really raw and really rough. A lot of dance music these days sounds really similar cause a lot of people are using the same computer programs and it’s really shiny and polished. So on ‘Survival’ I sampled some soul records and chopped them up the old school way.”

#1 Stylee

“This is probably the closest to a roots digital dancehall song. Again, I really like all that rough early ‘80s dancehall stuff where they’d just use pre-programmed drum beats from the cheap drum machines inside keyboards and get this one weird sound and repeat it over and over and say funny stuff over the top. I wanted to do something like that so I sampled and old dancehall record and chopped up the drums and you can hear people talking in the background and there’s some keyboard sounds from another record of that era.

There are a lot of delays and dub effects on it so it’s kind of a really dub style mix. Then just said some words over the top, I just made some stuff up. I think it’s more of a funny track, it’s a bit boastful, it’s like ‘this is the Number 1 Stylee, we’re the coolest’. I love songs like that. I think that whole kind of scene that I’m associated with, the rootsy thing, I don’t like when things are too earnest. And I’ve probably been guilty of that on a couple of tracks but really I’m not that guy.

I think it’s a mistake to take that and run with it, you see a couple of guys like that who think they’re Jesus and have all the answers and stuff, but I think you’ve still gotta have fun with it. I like music when you’re not trying to pretend you’re a person with all these life answers, you’re just having a bit of fun.”

Dancehall Days is out today (October 3rd) for more info visit

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