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Indie/Indie Rock Reviews

Review: Beabadoobee – Fake It Flowers

Fake It Flowers the debut album by the ever so popular Gen Z icon Beabadoobee has finally dropped and it’s everything we could have wanted and then some. Bea’s transformation from indie bedroom pop artist to full on emotional grunge rocker is complete, if you’ve been watching Bea for a while now it’ll feel as if she’s finally turned super saiyan, I mean she has the blonde hair now so maybe. But I’m getting ahead of myself, this isn’t someone who’s changed randomly, the natural progression of Beabadoobee’s musical career is just her finding her true self sonically, she’s perfected her craft and the album is one hell of a bang to showcase that. 

Fake It Flowers is a river of 90s grunge majesty, but with slick modern production. I hear the term ‘bubblegrunge’ when referring to Beabadoobee’s material and it’s a pretty solid umbrella term I think we can all get down with, but 20 year old rock star goes down a treat just the same. Bea manages to gather an audience of listeners from so many different genres, from kids who adore the bedroom pop-rock sound to adults who can’t get enough of the modern grunge sound people haven’t really heard much of really since the 90s ended, but her fans come together and bathe in the tranquility of the tracks pinned down by Bea and her band. 

The album kicks off with lead single Care, a classically cutesy Beabadoobee verse that then quickly builds up to a monster of a chorus that begs you to head bang and dance around your room. A perfect opener that shows off the sombre guitars and beautiful melodies we’ve known to love, and then to turn that idea on it’s head and shove the heavier guitars and make the rocker chick really resonate with you, especially with the lyrical complexities of the track, and over the whole album. Care takes us straight into the absolute anthem that is Worth It that just makes you crave to be in a mosh pit again belting out to the bonafide deal of a Beabadoobee show. 

Dye It Red is another stomper to make you punch the air, where the sound of the album really makes itself present, the drums that bang around your brain complimenting the guitars so well, but interwoven with the glorious bass that together ground you whilst the shoegaze-like guitars wisp you away. The production is consistent and absolutely mental, the way tracks such as Worth It, Dye It Red and Together just pop out, it’s almost as if you can feel each instrument around you. Dye It Red (like most Beabadoobee songs) lyrically is on another level, magnificent melodies disguise the deeper lyrics upon first listens, and on a further inspection you hear fragments of Bea’s life. “Fuck me when I’m keen, not according to your beer”, a glimpse into the everyday objectifying of women, especially when it comes men under the influence of alcohol. “Let me cut my hair and dye it red if I want to, I haven’t felt myself so comfortable, I’m not stopping now” A poetically personal but genuine message that people, especially young girls should do what they want, for themselves that makes them feel comfortable. 

Charlie Brown confronts past struggles with self harm, the line “throw it away” in the chorus repeated is a real heart wrencher that hits in so many ways, be it referring to the struggles we deal with, or the literal tools we have to our hand. Bea stated in an interview that Charlie Brown was her first window into understanding mental health, so naturally it’s a bound link for her. Mental health in young people today has never been more crucial and if you are struggling, never be ashamed to reach out for help. No day, person or life is perfect and the sooner we as a society openly accept that, the sooner the stigma of talking about mental struggles can become normalised and more people can get the help they need. 

Emo Song talks about the effects that manipulative past relationships can have and hold onto you even far after those relationships have ended. With ambient sounds kicking off this track, with quieter dynamics compared to previous tracks on the album, it really helps hone in the vulnerability and sensitive state you can be left in after an experience like that, matched with the lyrics “I lost myself in cosmic dust”, “You’re coming back again/I don’t want you back again” and “Just the thought of you doesn’t stop, you’re not a person or a thing, just the thought of you on my limbs, it’s all your fault/It’s all your fault” really shatter your nerves in a way that can only be applauded to Beabadoobee but maybe a hug to her and whoever can relate. Sorry follows up the quieter dynamics from Emo Song but pushes it with strings that just blend every part of this track together. 

Further Away blissfully takes the quieter sounds of the previous two tracks but manages to become a sort of lullaby but again the actual nature of the song completely contradicts the sleepy sounds and melody that gently puts it’s arm over your shoulder as a masquerade for the twists of the lyrics of the song. Horen Sarrison takes what you’ve just heard but being a love song about Bea’s boyfriend and longtime creative collaborator Soren Harrison, really is the arm on your shoulder you almost need after the real rollercoaster that has been the emotional tones of Fake It Flowers, but all the same showing that vulnerable side to Bea. “Eyes so green, I don’t know what that means, but you make me feel like all this is real/But I don’t want you to feel comfortable, and I want you to know that I’m in love” patched with “You are the song that I need for my mental state, you are the bus that stayed when I thought I was late, so I’m convinced you’re from outer space”. All in all you really get a sense of the wanderlust and emotion between the potent pairing which is really quite beautiful to gauge an understanding of.

Together takes us back to the energy from the start of the album, with pretty intense Smashing Pumpkins and Pavement vibes that really come together (no pun intended) under the influence of Bea’s voice, melodies that enter the third dimension during the chorus that makes your chest tighten up and mouth grin with glee. 

The album closes with Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene, a song that manages to combine the dreamy soundscapes from the likes of Sorry and Further Away, with the noise and exclamations of Together and Worth It, all whilst starting with Bea saying the vocals sound like a fart? Absolute insanity, and the even more crazy part? It kinda works and just adds to the tonality of the entire song, and after the adventure that is the experience of Fake It Flowers, the playful intro is quite a satisfying start to the song and end of the album. Lyrically Bea talks about the love of her life and how she knows what her kids names are going to be, being Yoshimi, Forest and Magdalene. Which if you didn’t quite catch there, you’ll be pleased to know there’s quite a few reminders of that throughout the song. It’s a fun more uplifting song that still captures the softer side of Bea in the verses but manages to stay fun in the typical Beabadoobee manner. 

The level of music within this album completely outshines previous work, the production by Joseph Rodgers who’s work has been on Beabadoobee’s prior work as well as with The Kooks, Graham Coxon and Liam Gallagher. As well as Pete Robertson producer and former drummer of the incredible band The Vaccines. Together they’ve managed to help mould Bea’s sound and create something breathtaking that just makes you wanna sit back and admire in awe before the beat of the songs convince you to get up and dance. Bea’s band are also phenomenal on the album, nothing feels like filler, every instrument has a reason for being there and playing what they play. Drummer Louis Semlekan-Faith really get to flaunt his talent throughout the album, especially on tracks such as Worth It and Sorry. Lead guitarist Jacob Bugden adds some firey licks all over the record, the riffs in Care and Dye It Red, as well as playing almost countermelodies to Bea’s vocals and bringing out another dimension to the world that is Fake It Flowers. And wrapping it all together is the chick who plays Bass, Eliana Sewell. Who’s playing just completely sticks out and almost becomes a part of the percussion at times, intricate Bass lines that just go straight to your head and carry the song like the foundations of a building. And all of this is snuggly embedded within the mind of Beatrice Laus to create a wonderful band experience and listening escapade. This was an album where a lot of love and care was put into it, a lot of raw emotion and quite obviously, a lot of fun making too. 

Fake It Flowers is an LP for the young adults of today (especially young women), the intimate and internal struggles we go through, soundtracked to your favourite 90s films. It’s a record that is just so brilliantly constructed from start to finish, that explores such heavy topics, all whilst staying such a wonderfully quirky collection of songs. A stoner rock lullaby, that keeps you slow dancing till the early hours of the morning, but on loud will definitely keep up your parents and neighbours, and give you the adrenaline rush needed to boost your mentality to get you through whatever else this year has to throw at us. 

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Indie/Indie Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Beabadoobee

I first discovered Beabadoobee when she was a humble acoustic solo artist early last year as she opened for The 1975 for a small show. And with most opening acts, you’re not really in the mindset to listen, let alone to one girl with an acoustic guitar trying to hype up 600 people for one of the biggest indie/pop bands of the decade, but something about her really struck a chord with me. It may have been the unique use of alternate guitar tunings, giving a somewhat exotic feel to her songs, which is missing in a lot of mainstream bands and artists these days, or her beautiful vocals sprinkled superbly onto her songs. One thing that I thought was quite bold was despite being a relatively unknown artist, whilst being humble to her audience listening to her, she had banter, and attitude which really made her stand out as a support act.

After I came home that night, I went straight on Spotify to find her work and discovered her EP’s Lice and Patched Up. The latter featuring the brilliant bedroom pop ballad Dance With Me, and rocker tune If You Want To. Instantly I was hooked, simply brilliant songwriting, with clear inspiration from people like Elliot Smith and Alex G, and already with those two songs I realised just the range of her ability to write. Her lyrics are something that really resonates with people today, including myself. Being just seventeen when writing at this period of her life, the struggles of being a teen is obviously something unanimous that we all go through, the struggles with love and mental health issues such as depression, self image or even insomnia, Bea beautifully manages to encapsulate all those feelings through her music and it makes every listening experience feel so personal and intimate.

Later in 2019 she dropped another EP titled Loveworm which showed some fantastic sonic development, showcasing a more grungier sound, like the perfect progression from 2018s If You Want To. Loveworm contains the blissfully sad Disappear which even now I think is one of her best tracks. It also gave us Angel, a dark slow punk song, that’s instrumentation makes you reminisce about what life would be like if you grew up in the 90s, and if you were lucky enough to experience the music of the 90s, then Loveworm should take you right back. Loveworm isn’t all doom and gloom though, with You Lie All The Time and Apple Cider, being upbeat indie songs to dance around with your friends at the party where half your mates are on the floor spacing out from the stench of cheap beer sticking to any and everything. It’s the quintessential teen soundtrack. 

Later in 2019 STILL she treated us to the lead single from her EP Space Cadet, with She Plays Bass, and goodness me, 2 years and 4 EPs with ridiculously unique sounds, honestly, the production on Space Cadet is astounding. Every instrument pops out and you can appreciate each layer. She Plays Bass has a fantastic bass riff, a wonderfully cute message within the lyrics and is just such a glamorous indie banger. And it doesn’t stop there, the opener Are You Sure is a phenomenal way to kick off an EP with such a natural progression from the sound from her previous efforts. The wonderful ode to the likes of Pavement with the song I Wish I Was Steven Malkmus, which just gets more addictive the more you hear it. The title track is the perfect closing theme to a coming of age movie, better yet it’s actually the EPs closer so listening to it from start to finish feels like a real cinematic experience, and you might just be walking to the shops, it doesn’t matter, Beabadoobee makes you relish every moment of your life. The unsung highlight of the EP for me is Sun More Often. It feels like a song from Loveworm, but with the fantastic production of Space Cadet, the alternate guitar tuning and open chords just make you feel like you’re in a saucepan with heroes such as Pavement, Mac DeMarco and Ariel Pink. It was around this time Bea announced her live performance lineup, and how her music would be more like a band than solo artist, both sonically and creatively, to which I will now dub as, Beabadoobee: The Band. Which by the way, are all fantastically talented musicians who you should check out as well. 

Since her EP’s, after waiting long enough, we have been granted with the most wonderful news of Beabadoobee’s debut album Fake It Flowers, due out October 16th, as well as being treated to singles during the lead up to the album. It all went off with the first single Care, initially teased on her instagram in August of last year, devoted fans finally got the chance to hear the song in full and with all its glory. The near perfected sound of Space Cadet has been finished and the production of Care is delicious. The melody being crazily catchy, and the guitars making you involuntarily want to head bang. It’s crazy hearing how her sound has evolved from the days of her earlier work such as Lice and Patched Up but it’s fantastic to see young artists be able to develop their styles the same way that we consume art, by jumping onto something new as soon as something ends, whether that’s intentional or not. Beabadoobee is a very modern artist, but knows exactly how to pay homage to her heavy influences. With the likes of the next singles Sorry and Worth It, we really get to wrap our head around the sounds we’re to expect when the new album drops next month, and I cannot wait.

It’s wonderful to see a young, non-male, non-white artist get recognition and thrive within the music community, keeping things fresh but having a distinct sound that gets you nostalgic for someone you may not have even known about for very long. Beabadoobee is helping to revive the sounds of the 90s to a brand new audience and it’s brilliant because the sounds of the 90s rarely get a modern look in, due to the height of the demand for 80s new wave, pop and rock soundscapes. People know about Oasis and Nirvana, but delving into the deeper sounds of the 90s, bands such as Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Porno For Pyros, Sonic Youth and Pavement that ultimately become the hidden gems to young music consumers that really should be household names and instantly recognisable sounds and brilliantly, Beabadoobee is making that happen. People are finding a new found love for this modern grunge sound, and so people inevitably want more and actively go out to listen to their new favourite artists influences.

The combination of that oh so angsty grunge sound is deeply complimented by longtime friends and collaborators Bedroom, who pair the evocative instrumentations with retro filmmaking, shooting their videos on film with Super 8 and Bolex 16mm cameras, and also utilising a lot of homemade props and sets, a lot of hand drawn elements that feel like they could have been made in, well a bedroom. The entire atmosphere of Beabadoobee’s world is so unequivocally raw and vibrant, the performances, the music and the videos, there is no stone unturned with her, and it’s pretty awesome to see.

If you’re in the UK you can see Beabadoobee on tour next year, or catch her at Reading and Leeds festival 2021. The bottom line here is that Beabadoobee is here to stay, and is here to get big. It’s pointless to not delve into her music because you’ll be in for the ride regardless, just you wait. Prepare to listen to 4 insane EP’s, witness a lot of hair colours, and experience album #1 as it unfolds. We can’t wait to see just how much Bea will grow in the coming years with the release of Fake It Flowers, and can’t wait to rock with her for many years to come.

Top tracks (so far) are Coffee, If You Want To, Disappear, Apple Cider, She Plays Bass, I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus, Care and Worth It. Catch her on Spotify, Apple Music, and Instagram (@radvxz), because you will not be disappointed.

Categories
Indie/Indie Rock Reviews

Review: Oscar Lang – Hand Over Your Head

Who the f*ck is Oscar Lang? Well someone you’re bound to wanna know by the end of this. The twenty year old Londoner has been making music since he was eleven, but properly started writing under the alias ‘Pig’ in 2016, and since then has been making quality compositions that you may already know of. Lang met fellow artist Beabadoobee through a mutual friend and started working on tracks together, so far as producing her work up until her second EP, all whilst recording and producing his own work, so rest assured, the guy seems to know what he’s doing, in and out of the studio. 

Previously calling his music the product of rolling “Mac DeMarco, John Lennon and the Wii shop channel music into a ball and putting it inside Kevin Parker’s butthole.” Which is a fair summary really. His earlier work definitely gives off the indie vibes of Mac DeMarco, the almost gruffness and brutality of some of his lyrics, but fine tuned to sparkly guitars and thick synths, all drenched in halls of reverb that make you almost transcend into a different reality. The psychedelic influence of Kevin Parker has definitely been noticeable throughout his discography. But today comes the release of his new EP, Hand Over Your Head and is the biggest change to his sound since he started releasing music 4 years ago. We were treated to the rougher sounding Apple Juice back in July, and it was the perfect way to introduce a shift in sound to his audience. Not a complete change in atmosphere by any means, but enough of a change to feel like you’ve travelled someplace else when looking back to his earlier work. There sounds like there’s a bit more anger and a lack of patience amongst this record, there’s no waiting around, Lang wants to get moving, and having to spend most of your year quarantined it’s really not the most outrageous feeling to have when everything seems to be crumbling around you. 

Next we got the similarly more rocky racket Get Out, a very obvious commentary on the effects of being trapped indoors for so long, and the extent of the heavy toll it takes on your mental health. But equally it’s something relatable to introverts anywhere, not just a lockdown lullaby. Most of us go through anxious phases where we don’t go out and it feeds into a never ending spiral of worry, so Lang really knows how to nail a tune down to some relatable lyrics that’s for sure. The soundscape was slightly more Oscar Lang than the likes of Apple Juice but still showcasing the newer and dirtier vibe we were delighted with Apple Juice.

But with the release of the entire EP we can really get down and appreciate the nitty gritty of the new sound. Imagine Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but a more polished sound with the prevalent issues that our generation faces written all over it. It kicks off with Wake Up, a ticking clock, birds tweeting and strange noises all leading to the climax of an alarm going off transitioning smoothly into Apple Juice. Already you get a vibe for the sensory overload that is yet to treat your ears, similarly to the feeling of waking up and struggling to keep your eyes open. After being greeted by tracks 2 and 3 which are the singles we’ve already heard, we get Drinking Wine, a fast boom, that starts off with a more traditional intro to an Oscar Lang song, almost sounding like a the type of track you’d hear on Overthunk, but resurrected with the angstier production of Hand Over Your Head. Three tracks in and already the new vibe is something you can almost taste, the basslines with so much more tone, the drums that pop out so much more, Lang manages to create this feeling of adrenaline that zooms by, you almost forget where you are as so much happens.

We’re then greeted by I Feel Good, which starts off slow almost like after a morning of chaos where you finally manage to catch a break to take a deep breath, before nipping back into the second half of the song, where the rockier side of Lang overflows, like a Miles Kane or Oasis song, definitely one that’ll start a few mosh pits when we can all get back to gigging. It’s like the busyness from the start of your morning is no longer out of hand, and you’re starting to take control. The depth of the distorted guitars, with a brit-pop sounding solo that just makes you want to kick the air, it’s truly something wonderful here. 

Any longtime fans will be delighted to hear Velvet Dreams, originally released only on Lang’s Soundcloud a couple years ago, which has been produced and shaped up to be a stoner’s serenade. Being an older song, it’s definitely more of a traditional Oscar Lang sound, which makes you start to question the reality you’re in, because the psychedelic soundscape is absolutely breathtaking, it’s definitely one to gaze up at the stars whilst you listen. Being the EP’s ‘slow song’ it completely sticks out, but not like a sore thumb, but more like when you spot that someone in the crowd that makes your whole world stop spinning, as everything but them becomes meaningless. After that extraordinary experience, we come to the EP’s end with Outro, the outro of the record. A short descent back to reality that’s almost a punishment really, just as the high of Velvet Dreams starts to fade away, we’re at the end and you just desire so much more, but thankfully there is much more where that came from. 

From the adrenaline filled Apple Juice to the ethereal polyphonic textures of Velvet Dreams, Lang creates a euphoric atmosphere that’s easy to love, yet hard to get over. Some of his best work yet, and I absolutely can’t wait to hear more from the loveable lad. I’d give you the top tracks but that’d be unfair, they’re all beautiful. Just go listen to the whole EP and see for yourself, it deserves a listen all the way through, it’s the best way to experience it. 

I highly recommend you work your way through Lang’s entire discography on your favourite streaming service, and when you’re done check out his Soundcloud, because there’s loads more of his work that feels like you’ve discovered an Easter Egg in one of your favourite games. It seriously shows off the guy’s talent, and from working on music from such a young age. At only twenty years old, he’s not only a fantastic songwriter, but also a profound producer that I genuinely think will blow up and go down in history.