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Britspotting w/ Matt McGrath

CD of The Week

Week of 7/13/20

    The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers (Carpark)

    With their 2018 debut album, Future Me Hates Me, The Beths showed that they were both cutting edge and nostalgic. The album showcased Beach Boys-style harmonies and pop songwriting mixed with 90s indie rock fuzz and introspective and borderline self-deprecating lyrics from lead singer/guitarist Elizabeth Stokes. Almost exactly two years later The Beths are back with their follow-up, Jump Rope Gazers. The 10-track album is a testament to a band that is hungry for more. Simplicity becomes complexity without sacrificing the hallmarks that made them one of the most exciting discoveries of 2018.

    The album starts off in familiar territory with the one-two punch of "I'm Not Getting Excited" and "Dying to Believe." The sound here harkens back to Future Me Hates Me: fast, up-tempo, catchy power-pop songs. Stokes is still dealing with issues of self-doubt and image, but she has not lost her handle on doing so with a dry sense of wit. "I'm not getting excited/'Cause the thrill isn't mine to invite in/Just the chill when I learn/That's it's finally my turn/I've finally earned my place in the urn/And I take a fall." Reading does not do the delivery justice, listen to this one with windows down and the volume turned all the way up. From here though is where the album starts to take an interesting turn.

    The title track "Jump Rope Gazers" slows things down for a 5-minute song that perfectly captures the feelings of being in love. The simplicity of the chorus sums it all up and is supported by some truly dreamlike backing vocals from the rhythm section. This song proves The Beths have the confidence to move forward and develop their sound, which in and of itself is a wonderful trait for a sophomore album.

    These signs of growth are peppered throughout the album. "Do You Want Me Now" is as heart-breaking as the title suggests while "You Are a Beam of Light" is a folksy acoustic tune that once again delves into the complexity of relationships. The album ends on a bittersweet note with "Just Shy of Sure," a tune that tackles the conflicting feelings one goes through after a breakup. The subject matter is an interesting one to choose to close out the record, but Stokes handles the vocals and lyrics in a way that is compelling without being a total bummer.

    But make no mistake, Jump Rope Gazers has plenty of upbeat earworms to balance things out. "Acrid," "Don't Go Away" and "Mars, The God of War" are there to remind you of the seemingly effortless blend of harmony, hooks, and licks that were a cornerstone of their debut.

    A sigh of relief and a chirp of excitement are expelled after completing the album. Simply put, instead of a sophomore slump, The Beths soar with Jump Rope Gazers.
    Review by Keith Obaza

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