The Beths’ debut Future Me Hates Me was about as fun and free-feeling as emo-pop could possibly get, spinning anxiety into cotton candy, whether it was on the radiantly catchy single “Happy Unhappy,” the bouncing bubble-punk banger “Uptown” or the sleek self-doubting “You Wouldn’t Like Me.” The New Zealand band had music school backgrounds, they all sang, and they stuffed their songs with joyful hooks, but the album never felt showy or cluttered. All that talent was empathetically mustered in caring service of singer-guitarist Elizabeth Stokes’ unguardedly introspective lyrics, making for an uncommonly warm and human form of power-pop gusto.
The Beths are back with a new record, Jump Rope Gazers, out July 10th, and they’ve just released a new single, “Dying to Believe.” Where the sound on a lot of Future Me Hates Me had a Sixties-inscribed sunniness, the guitars that open their latest song have more have of a Seventies street-rock edge to them, even if the street in question is a welcomingly safe one. What emerges is fleet and lovely, strutting and sweet, with Stokes making word-stuffed lines like “I’m sorry for the way that I can’t hold conversations/it’s such a fragile thing to try support the weight of,” roll by with the energetic grace of a bubblegum sha-la-la and there’s loads of melodic detail all over the place. When the chorus opens up and lifts off with the gentle grandeur of a kite taking flight in a Sunday park, it should be uniquely striking, except that’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from a band this easefully gifted.
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