Beach Bunny Credit: Brandon Hoeg

Beach Bunny singer, guitarist, and songwriter Lili Trifilio established herself as a surrogate older sister to a generation of listeners when the band’s single “Prom Queen” went viral on TikTok in 2019. The Chicago four-piece are more than a “TikTok band,” though. Sure, the teens who dominate the popular video-sharing platform connected with Trifilio’s concise melodies and with the feminist themes of “Prom Queen” (it indicts the unrealistic beauty standards applied to young women), but by then Beach Bunny had already come up through the city’s DIY rock scene—they’d earned their bona fides by playing years of house shows and self-releasing a string of EPs. Beach Bunny’s music has always focused on heartbreak, but on the group’s new fifth EP, Blame Game, Trifilio expands the emotional palette of her songs to include righteous anger. On lead single “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used),” she gleefully talks down to emotionally manipulative, two-timing guys with poor communication skills: “You say you won’t but then you do,” she repeats on the coda, while drummer Jonathan Alvarado, guitarist Matt Henkels, and bassist Anthony Vaccaro echo the turmoil in the lyrics by cycling through four different grooves. On the title track, a sarcastic retort to anyone who blames women for being sexually harassed, Henkels and Trifilio’s power chords seem to grimace as the narrator apologizes that her clothes can’t keep other people’s hands off her body. The EP’s highlight is “Nice Guys,” a rebuke of sex-focused men who treat female friendship as a consolation prize, played at the perfect tempo for self-empowered headbanging. Blame Game is the first time Trifilio has mentioned sex in her depictions of romance, but it only appears in the past tense, as a nuisance or a betrayal—these are songs by a woman who knows what she’s done tolerating. This shift in tone mirrors Trifilio’s own evolving attitude. “I can’t really see myself resonating with feeling super-insecure in relationships anymore,” she recently told The A.V. Club. “I feel like—as of late, at least—if people have those red flags, I usually get out of there.” Beach Bunny’s music already sounds ecstatic when it describes sadness and anger; as the band prepare for their sophomore album, I hope Trifilio will find reason to tell a story with a happy ending.   v