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Review: The Beths’ ‘Future Me Hates Me’ Is a Power-Pop Monument

New Zealand band packs a career’s worth of hooks into their great debut LP.

A wonderful little record that never lets up, piling on unassumingly buzzy fun until you start realizing you might be in the presence of a true power-pop monument. The Beths are from New Zealand, so singer-guitarist Elizabeth Stokes’ accent might make you think of Courtney Barnett a little – especially when she’s firing off auto-critical logorrhea like “you’re in my brain taking up space / I need for remembering pins and to take out the bins / And that one particular film that that actor was in I see your face superimposed over everything / It ain’t right.” But the Beths are more a band-band and a song-band than a singer-songwriter-band, brilliant at bright guitar frenzy, instantly memorable melodies and tune-mad group sing-alongs with the joy of Sixties bubblegum rock; there’s a real love at solving pop formula here (they’ve got a song called “Uptown Girl,” for gosh sake), but they never lose the sense of discovery at heart of rock and roll. Stokes sings about the usual self-doubt and affliction without getting bogged down in the sads, punching through pain on songs like “Great No One,” “You Wouldn’t Like Me” and “Happy Unhappy” with the help of lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce, whose sunny squall suggests a ritual sweetening of Bob Stinson’s AOR god-barf. On “Whatever” love gets her so mixed up she threatens to swerve her car and you with it right into the water (“and wait for the maker”) but the song is as sleek as, well, the Cars themselves.

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