There’s nothing like dreamy power pop wafting through the gentle summer air, accompanying a BBQ, with the genial, tipsy chatter of extended family and friends, and the night stretching out like open arms… Or at least, that’s how things would have been, were we not finding ourselves stuck in phase two of lockdown.
The Beths‘ second album, then, is a power pop record emphatically not about getting together with pals, but rather about loneliness and being in limbo, and as such, it’s actually rather appropriate for these unprecedented days. Elizabeth Stokes’ pure, guileless vocals skateboards the listener into melancholic indie kid shadows.
The New Zealand band make wide-eyed pop influenced by eighties college radio, with a soupçon of grunge. Tracks like Dying To Believe and Mars, The God Of War are anthemic songs full of Cars style keyboards and Go-Gos guitars. And Stevie Nicks would sell her black capes for some of their riffs.
There is a lot that’s immensely likeable here. Stokes’ voice is beautiful, evocative, particularly in the title track, of tear-stained diaries, the last days of university, and the crushing, defining moment when innocence is lost forever. Dreams crunch like leaves under sneakers, the beer kegs have tipped over, but there’s not a soul in sight.
It’s all packed full of wistful tunes then, and all of the songs have real immediacy, but I’d love for Stokes to dig a little deeper, and show everyone the dirt underneath her fingernails. The Beths are loaded with potential, let’s hear them roar.