Captivating my ears with its core aesthetic for alternative rock that bled deeper than the surface layer, Beabadoobee wowed my ears on her debut, Fake It Flowers. The music had a level of nuance that gave it an identity, weaving together a consistency that never left me feeling that she was tilting toward thin nostalgia, even if the songs themselves aren’t individually strong due to slight repetitiveness. Unfortunately, it’s something that mirrors in her follow-up Beatopia, an album that brings us within her world. With unique melodic pop styles woven with lo-fi, psychedelia, and rock, a shift from her debut. It threads sounds that often take you back to the 90s–00s, shifting sounds that equate constructs we’ve heard at that time, whether from The Sundays or Mazzy Star, except with modern complexions. On Beatopia, there are many times we get something fresh and whimsical, and other times we get that repetitiveness that loses you ever-so-slightly.
Little details are essential, and it struck me first with Beatopia. There are confident quirks, whether track transitions or in chords, that elevate the emotional shifts from Beabadoobee. “Broken Cd” is an emotionally poignant, albeit subtle, pop song that digs at a romantic loss with strings that move and shift like a stream of consciousness; it transitions to an elevated rock banger, “Talk,” with an essence of grunge as a slight coating. It shows a parallel between two eras of Beabadoobee: the younger sullen teen who kept lamenting on a single memory to an older, more free-flowing, partying, with ill-fated romantic flings stumbling with mistakes, instead of moving on. It creates an initial jolt as the sounds contrast each other immensely. It cements a line of dividends where some sonic undertones feel more thematic, creating unique contrasts with the tracklist order, specifically as the second half focuses on more rock-like instrumentations like the remarkable “Fairy Song.”
With these little details, sometimes you may hear subtle mixtures, like taking certain chord progressions from “Maps (Four Track Demo)” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and incorporating them into their guitar riffs. On “Picture of Us,” the initial chord hit me instantly, though that’s no surprise since I listen to “Light and Day” by The Polyphonic Spree a lot–they both have similar progression in chord pitch at a near comparable time. Some pop parallels shift swiftly to create new and radiant sounds, like the lively “Sunny Day” and “Fairy Song.” And its effectiveness makes the shift from pop to rock overtones come with finesse instead of transitioning into more melodic rhythms; it transitions to killer sequences that contrast her emotionally pertinent vocals.
At its core, Beatopia has thematic styles hovering tracks, all of which stem from its melancholy, vibey center, which can assimilate smoothly. It’s heard from the pop-bossa nova-rock hybrid “The Perfect Pair,” which brings the elemental core of her poppy choruses and pushes them to the forefront. And with “Tinkerbell is Overrated,” a plucky acoustic pop soft rock instrumentation starts to grow, and grow, and become a riotous alt-pop-rock banger. They aren’t like “10:36,” which feels like a slight rethread from something that would have fit with the overall sonic landscape of Fake It Flowers because it can be hard to make out the vocal at times. It isn’t like “Talk,” which brings forth distinct contrasts, natural synergy, and parallels while having a genuine transition. It happens again, as “10:36” takes away what could have been a cleaner transition between “Beatopia Cultsong” and “Sunny Day.”
After “Sunny Day,” there are slight impasses before picking up again with more consistency at “Ripples,” with a detour at “Lovesong.” “Ripples” and “Lovesong” have sounds that acquiesce individually, but the latter isn’t as impactful. “Ripples” brings forth intrigue as we see Beabadoobee emotionally struggle with a long-distance relationship due to touring, adding gravitas to the performance with comparatively uproarious violins. “Lovesong” sometimes comes off slightly hollow in the instrumentation, playing coy as we hear pianos coast over beautifully melancholic strings. It’s effective to a fault, as love songs aren’t always the most captivating. But the collection of tracks that follow have a crisper, hook–line–sinker as it transitions from the melodic, emotionally potent, and soft vocals of pop and then lets it out with the instrumentation.
Beatopia keeps me excited for Beabadoobee and her career moving forward, especially hearing the depth she can create with her co-producers. It’s different, mature, and offers a sense of identity instead of shifting genres every other song. With replay value, there is enough to head back to, especially that second half, as the flurry of great tracks hit you, leaving you satisfied as it comes to a close.