For What It’s Worthless
To explain my attachment to Beta, I have to go back a couple of years, to a slightly less mature me. Whenever a band followed me on Twitter, I would tweet my first impressions of their profile photo. If they didn’t immediately unfollow me after whatever weird thing I said, I listened to their band. I’ll never forget the first thing I said to Nick Long of Beta (and My Sweet Fall, the band I was followed by/attacking). I tweeted them “your lead singer looks like Party Monster-era Macaulay Culkin,” and they promptly responded with Nick doing the Home Alone face. From that moment on, I dragged the band to whatever website I was banging out reviews for, throwing their music into the faces of my friends and editors alike, trying to get them the notice they deserve. I’m doing the same with the aforementioned Nick Long’s side project, Beta, which is why you’re reading this review.
Nick combines the dreamy softness of Dashboard Confessional with the cynical harshness of Say Anything, and nowhere is it more apparent than For What It’s Worthless, Beta’s first EP. There’s a deceptive happiness to the music itself, which flows with the bare bones realness of the lyrics. Take the opener “Darling” for example. It’s very upbeat, but the lyrics tell the truth of the song (“Darling, I am calling. I’m locked outside with someone else, a fragment of my former self. So darling, could you save me?”). “Wither Away” shows its true face from the start. It’s a song that seems to bleed with Long’s pain, seeping through your speakers and slipping into your psyche. “Full House” is another faster jam that belies the song’s serious subject matter (self-loathing. Lots and lots of self-loathing). There’s a soothing quality to the next song “Calm Down”, and it makes you wonder if it was written for a girl or the author himself. “Calm Down” is Beta’s best song to date, with a rollicking chorus that gets trapped between your ears instantly. Don’t try to shake it, it’ll only make it worse. Ending things far too quickly is “Broken In”, a strangely uplifting song (strangely because it has the album’s title in it: “For what? It’s worthless”) that makes you nervous with Long’s trademark honesty.
Nick Long is not afraid to put himself out there in song, not afraid to be self-deprecating as long as he he can reach someone and let them know they aren’t alone in their feelings, and that, in essence, is what makes Beta so great. Sure, the music itself is amazing, but it’s the genuine care that Long expresses for everyone around him, especially those that support his musical endeavors, that really makes the music worth listening to.