The Total Bettys - This is Paradise - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Total Bettys - This is Paradise

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2018-11-16
The Total Bettys - This is Paradise
The Total Bettys - This is Paradise

Once upon a time, the term “Betty,” was a sexist slang term for an attractive woman, akin to “babe” of “fox” or any of the other casually bandied about terms men would use to snidely comment on a woman’s overt appearance. In true artist fashion, San Francisco’s queer, feminist pop-punk quartet The Total Bettys have taken ownership of the term like bosses.

Formed three years ago, their latest release This is Paradise is their second full-length album and contains ten engaging tracks of luscious pop-punk that demonstrate the band’s artistic and musical growth in the right direction. Catchy opener “Am I Glowing” highlights one of the group’s strongest assets, the vocals of Maggie Grabmeier. Starting out by talking about spending a lonely Friday “sharing a bed with her phone,” she lifts herself up enough at the end to remind us that “I get migraines when I try to not think about you, but trust me, I feel fine…”

Driving the music are the twin guitars of Grabmeier and friend Reese Gray, anchored by Chloé Lee and Kayla Billios, turning out chugging melodies and earworm riffs that guide the angsty, heartwrenching, yet oddly encouraging lyrics. Example; kinetic rocker “One Less Mistake,” wherein Grabmeier sings, “I messed it up again. What’s another failed attempt?” amidst the fretwork of Gray, weaving licks throughout the melody and lyrics like Peter Buck after the fifth cup of coffee. On “Grown Up,” she sings, “Wake me up when I grow…old” it makes me realize that for a man of considerably older vintage, the phrase still hits home. On "Dark and Stormy," Grabmeier fights back against the predatory behaviors of some of the musicians upon their younger fans. It's not only pushing back, but it's also protecting one's own and standing up for what's right, and it's the kind of fearlessness you want from your artists.  

Overflowing with lyrics that repeat much of the same themes as their previous effort Peach, Grabmeier sings of anxiety, responsibility, disillusionment, love gone wrong, and finding out that, despite it all, you’re going to be ok. It’s a lovely takeaway from a record that is fun and genuine, which yields endearing.

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