Pop Music Review: The Beths at the Black Cat
The show was part of the Beths’ first U.S. tour since releasing their sophomore album, “Jump Rope Gazers,” released in mid-2020 to a mostly locked-down world. The record features slower songs and more complex vocal harmonies, but marks only a minor evolution in the band’s style, one barely noticeable in concert. The band positioned the second album’s midtempo title track in the middle of their set, but mostly played faster numbers. These included two more recent compositions, both upbeat: ‘Silence Is Golden’ and ‘A Real Thing’. The latter timidly addressed climate change, proposing collective action to “postpone the future”. ti-ii-de.” (Another eco-friendly note was struck by a stage setting featuring New Zealand birds.)
Stokes and Pearce often played twin rhythm guitars, and Pearce’s solos tended to be short and to the point. The interlocking guitars connected the Beths’ style to that of bands such as the Chills and the Clean, which put New Zealand on the alternative rock map in the 1980s. Yet the Beths don’t quite sound like those predecessors. This is partly due to the flexible rhythms of bassist Benjamin Sinclair and drummer Tristan Deck, but also to the soprano of Stokes. He hovers above his own darker thoughts, bringing them into line with the exuberant music of the Beths.
Opening was Lunar Vacation, an Atlanta band whose songs were mostly dreamy or loungey, but were occasionally jolted by a raspy guitar or rhythmic passage.