The BETHS – ” Expert In A Dying Field “

Posted: June 13, 2022 in MUSIC

The third album from the New Zealand quartet houses 12 jewels of tight, guitar-heavy songs that worm their way into your head, an incandescent collision of power-pop and skuzz.

With expert, The Beths wanted to make an album meant to be experienced live, for both the listeners and themselves. they wanted it to be fun — to hear, to play — in spite of the prickling anxiety throughout the lyrics, the fear of change and struggle to cope. Most of expert was recorded at guitarist Jonathan Pearce’s studio on Karangahape road in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand) — and sometimes in the building’s cavernous stairwell at 1am — Toward the end of 2021, until they were interrupted by a four-month national lockdown. They traded notes remotely for months, song writing from afar and fleshing out the arrangements alone, the first time they’d written together in such a way. the following February, The Beths left the country for the first time in more than two years to tour across the USA, and simultaneously finish mixing the album on the road.

The latter half felt more collaborative, with everyone on-hand to trade notes in real time, until it all culminated in a chaotic three-day studio mad-dash in Los Angeles. there, “Expert In A Dying Field” finally became the record they were hearing in their heads. “Expert” is an extension of the same skuzzy palette the band has built across their catalogue, pop hooks embedded in incisive indie rock. the album’s title track “Expert In A Dying Field” introduces the thesis for the record: “how does it feel to be an “Expert In A Dying Field” how do you know it’s over when you can’t let go?” Stokes asks. “love is learned over time ‘til you’re an expert in a dying field.” the rest is a capsule of The Beths’ most electrifying and exciting output, a sonic spectrum: “your side” is a forlorn and sincere love song, emotive; while “Silence Is Golden,” with its propulsive drum line and stop-start staccato of a guitar line winding up and down, is one of the band’s sharpest and most driving.  “Silence Is Golden” maintains The Beths’ bright power-pop and guitar-driven song structures. There’s a palpable tension throughout the track, reinforced by the tight percussion and Elizabeth Stokes’ rapid repetition of “The sound, the sound, the sound, the sound, the sound, the sound, the sound, the sound.” The unbearable level of noise getting under her skin, she compares it to a “building to a jet plane engine / Building to 6 a.m. construction / It’s building and building and building until I can’t function at all.”

“When You Know You Know” skews a bit groovier, pure pop and a natural addition to the band’s live set. “Knees Deep” was written last minute, but yields one of the best guitar lines on “expert“. there’s a certain chaos across the 12 tracks, the palpable joy of playing music with long-time friends colliding with the raw nerves of pain. Stokes strings it all together through her singular song writing lens, earnest and self-effacing, zeroing in on the granules of doubt and how they snowball. did i do the wrong thing? or did you? and are we still good people at the end of it? she isn’t interested in villains, but instead interested in just telling the story. that insecurity and thoughtfulness, translated into universality and understanding, has been the guiding light of The Beths’ output since 2016. In the face of pain, there’s no dwelling on internal anguish – instead, through The Beths’ music, our shortcomings are met with acceptance. and “Expert in a Dying Field” is the most tactile that tenderness has been.

releases September 16, 2022

The Beths:
Elizabeth Stokes – Guitar, Vocal
Jonathan Pearce – Guitar, Vocal, Keys
Benjamin Sinclair – Bass, Vocal
Tristan Deck – Drums, Vocal

All songs written by Elizabeth Stokes, except ‘Change In The Weather’ co-written by Jonathan Pearce

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