Not many bands can engineer an explosion of guitar-filled sound while also voicing sobering realities and illuminating down-to-earth scenarios. The Beths, a fiery quartet from Auckland, New Zealand, do just that— and they excel at it. The band’s spirited power pop is filled with emotion and instrumental riffs that go above and beyond, making the quartet’s two resulting albums some of the most exciting releases on the indie scene.
The band’s unique backstory has influenced its sound, especially on its sophomore album “Jump Rope Gazers.” Band members Elizabeth Stokes and Jonathan Pearce originally met in high school, but the development of the band truly began when the two met Benjamin Sinclair and Ivan Luketina-Johnston while studying jazz at the University of Auckland. While The Beths’ two albums are certainly not jazz records, the impact of their studies is noticeable in their guitar work. Especially in live shows, the band plays with a certain flexibility that sets them apart from any typical rock act.
The Beths released their punchy first single, “Idea/Intent,” in 2015, not long after the four members formed the band. The tune, as well as two other singles, would go on to form the band’s first EP, “Warm Blood.” The band’s music seriously rose to prominence with its 2018 release, “Future Me Hates Me.” Stokes’ deadpan but powerful vocal tone and Pearce’s red hot hooks characterized the album and caught the attention of many— including emo alt-rock powerhouse Death Cab for Cutie, with whom the Beths toured in 2019.
The Beths’ newest album is a very welcome release for many quarantined and live-music-deprived fans. The 10-track project, which dropped in early July of this year, shows a different and more pacified side of the Beths. While some criticized the album for being too subdued, others saw it as the maturing band taking a new direction. The songs lean less on energy-fueled movement and instead attempt to soak the listener in sentiment. This step away from the band’s earlier motifs may have been surprising to some but is a sign that The Beths are looking for more than a simple formula for their music.
New music is valuable in a time where so much seems indefinite, and The Beths have provided brilliantly. The band has become more than just an exciting new act, and they now must pay attention to the reception of their past projects while developing their future sound. For now, though, it’s more than enough to be thankful for the dynamic sound they have already created.