The pressure that fans and musicians themselves place on a follow-up album can be a heavy weight. The Beths released their debut LP Future Me Hates Me in 2018 to great fanfare. The New Zealand quartet’s harmonies, frenetic drums, and self-aware lyrics hit hard worldwide. Taking the album on the road, The Beths opened to more and more ears opening for the likes of The Breeders and The Pixies as well as a slew of headlining stints. Now, their much-anticipated second album Jump Rope Gazers is out, and while touring isn’t an option for now—the album has been eagerly anticipated.
In any artistic creation, it can be challenging to follow-up
a success. In 1996, Weezer’s Pinkerton
hit radiowaves as a flat tire. The emo-rich album was a departure from the power-pop
hooks that made the band shine on their 1994 debut. In hindsight, it is adored
for its tender and deeply personal tone. The Beths lead singer Elizabeth Stokes
is no stranger to personal content appearing in her music. Self-effacing and
working through feelings in song is a part of what made their debut so special.
The openness paired with blazing pop sentiment stands out again on their
opening track “I’m Not Getting Excited.” The power chords and dynamic quiet/loud
play are reminiscent of their debut.
The band met in college while studying to be jazz musicians, and they continue to display their talent for subversively complex layers of sound and tempo. The pairing of sonic chaos and crisp harmonies ring brilliantly on “Dying To Believe.” Reaching into new territory, The Beths share a down-tempo vibes on “Acrid” and “Do You Want Me Now” that expose the struggles that distance creates in people. They express the lyrics well with an even tone and numb delivery of longing.
The scrambling playfulness of their debut takes a backseat to a more balanced tone in the new album. Jump Rope Gazers isn’t a sophomore slump by any stretch of the imagination, but its production does leave the listener yearning for a bit more spontaneity.