The Beths - Future Me Hates Me - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-08-10
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

The lent ears of 2018 will be hard-pressed to hear a more irresistible song than “You Wouldn’t Like Me.” The Beths play pop music with rock undertones; or possibly rock music with pop undertones. But it’s all here in this song: hooks to burn, superb musicianship, passionate vocals, hand claps, a ton of fun, a humorous self-deprecating lyric with cavernous insight, and Jonathan Pearce’s bridge over the River Everything guitar solo.

Apparently, the band members are jazz school people. Now, this album certainly doesn’t sound like The Birth of Cool, but it is highly arranged and clever music. You know, I love all that long prog stuff like Genesis’ “Supper’s Ready” or Yes’s “Close to the Edge” because they extend the great pop tune construct and examine it like a Hubble telescope space shot. There’s just a lot of stardust in the music. Well, this band, in contrast, compresses all that dense detail into the glance of some electron microscope. There are no epics that seek cosmic truth, but melodic twists turn, harmonics leap, time signatures oddly change, vocals converge; and pretty great rock music is injected into the minute particulars of a three or four-minute tune.

That’s just my way of saying this album, despite its commercial roots, has classic album staying power.

Quite frankly, every track is a great listen. “Great No One” is typical. The band’s engine room rocks; Elizabeth Stokes’s vocals have a folk tune richness; and that guitar fills in every vacant moment with power and fluid melody. And then the vocal harmonies soar with (almost) Brian Wilson and Beach Boy beauty. “Future Me Hates Me” ups the ante with ample vocal range that projects a psychological duet, while the guitar plays a rather wonderful riff. “Uptown Girl” is, thankfully, not a cover of a Billy Joel tune. But it does have a guitar solo that, again, simply arcs a tough rainbow over the band’s rock ‘n’ roll music.

Truly, every song is a sonic vignette that is worthy of applause. “Not Running Away” sets the stage for the intense “Little Death” with its theatrical heavy hand. This is the stuff that pulses the album beyond mere pop music. This one is, truly, close to the edge.

And “Happy Unhappy” is quick, quirky, and absolutely gorgeous. Once again, the lead and backing vocals conquer all and then the guitar (with its broad sonics) nails its solo to the flagpole. In this downloaded age of one tune here and another tune there, this may well be the gateway song that opens the rest of the album to the folks who are willing to (to sort of quote Shakespeare again) “lend ears” to good music.  

“River Run: Lvl” is folk music rocked up a bit with full frontal blissful vocal harmonies. And really, there’s an echo of The Beatles (circa “Love Is All You Need”) shadow in the chorus.

The final two songs simply cement the band’s imprint in rock ‘n’ roll concrete. “Whatever” is complex rock music under that discerning microscope—with yet another great guitar solo. And “Less Than Thou” completes the circle with more urgent (almost) folk, (almost) pop, (almost) rock, and, quite simply, rather heavy melodic music. This one says good-bye with a passionate wave to lovers of clever music everywhere.

The band’s sales talk describes “a toolkit of deft instrumental chops and tricked-out arrangements that operate on a level rarely found in guitar-pop.” Well, no hype there. In fact, I’ve spent any number of paragraphs saying pretty much the very same thing. This album of seemingly dispensable clever pop songs simply refuses to surrender its flag. It punches and it pounds; it harmonizes; it plays amazing guitar; and it burns my Polk Audio speakers with melodies that drink deep rock ‘n’ roll, with a collective irresistible chorus that has, perhaps, a half-life of a lifetime of plays.

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