When I first approached With Just a Hint of Mayhem and was accepted into the fold, I knew I would be expected to review a whole spectrum of musical styles. In the past, I would never have listened to Beabadoobee’s style of music until now – and what a treat it has been. Born in the Philippines and raised in London, Bea Kristi began recording music back in 2017. At 21 years old, she already has a debut album and five EPs to her name, while also receiving a BRIT Award and BBS Sound Of nominations. Her second studio album, ‘Beatopia’, boasts 14 tracks, richly diverse in style and all are a remarkable tonic for the ears. The album takes you on a musical rollercoaster of alternative rock, psychedelia, folk, singer-songwriter, emo, and full-on pop. Whilst enjoying this thrilling ride you also get a peek into her mind and soul, ‘Beatopia’ is so much more than a collection of tracks. Collaboration on this album has been integral and Bea remarks that “It was the first time I really appreciated everyone around me instead of despising everything…I thought I should utilise the hell out of the fact that I have so many good people in my life”. Working closely with guitarist Jacob Bugden, who Bea describes as her “best mate” and with co-production from Iain Berryman (Wolf Alice, Florence & The Machine, Arcade Fire) ‘Beatopia’ makes its debut after 12 months of production.
The album opens with the track, “Beatopia Cultsong”, and has been likened to The 1975’s opening track on their 2013 album, ‘The 1975’. It has a dreamy psychedelic feel and hints at Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins as it builds layers of sounds, friends chatter, and clinking bottles. Gradually building in crescendo with cleverly crafted guitar picking, synth strings, and Bea’s voice crashing in. “Is it me or recently, time is moving slowly” fills the piece accompanied by tuneful bongos and shakers. It reaches its peak and starts to fade to where it started. It is followed by “10:36”, bursting through the speakers. It has shades of pop rock, skater music, and Cerys Matthews all rolled into one. It couldn’t be more different from the opening track and that’s what makes this album so special. Bea says of the track “It was called “10:36” because that was the time I finished writing it. It’s basically about how I have this weird dependency on human contact to sleep.” Listen out for the unexpected guitar break about halfway through.
“Sunny Day” is a track inspired by her love of pop artists such as Nelly Furtado and Corinne Bailey Rae. The video sees her take a trip into a mystical woodland, falling into its magical curiosities and making friends with its unusual inhabitants. Musically, I thought I heard the opening line to Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”, the melodic acoustic guitar, but that’s as far as the comparison goes. Talking about the single, Bea says: ““Sunny Day” is a song that I’ve always wanted to make but something that I’ve never done before”. Her sweet, dulcet voice beautifully carries the track along, its dreamy composition swirls around the verses, while the chorus delivers a catchy and downbeat interlude.
“See You Soon” seems to flow seamlessly from the last track – a trippy number that ebbs and flows, a little like some 90’s shoegazing tracks. Think of an acoustic Lush and that’s the sound we get. What follows is “Ripples”. Described as having Baroque orchestral flourishes “Ripples” is a folk-inspired song with the benefit of some songwriting help from lead singer Matthew Healy of The 1975. Bea oozes versatility and originality and you never quite know what’s going to come next. And that’s why ‘Beatopia’ is such a brilliant and powerful album. Up next, is “The Perfect Pair”, a Bossa Nova accompanied by some very tasteful orchestral strings. Bea executes this Latin style with true panache, retaining her silky sweet and melodic vocals. The musical style may be different from everything else on the album, but it’s still Beabadoobee, no doubt. “Broken CD” treats us to some subtle acoustic guitar, wind chimes, and drum echoes. It gradually builds to a delicious crescendo and all the while Bea’s soft and whispering vocals are the backbone of the track, ending with some shiny shimmering synths. “Talk” brings us back to earth with a bump, with distorted guitars – it’s upbeat, bounces, and gives you a sense of making the most of life while you can; a polished piece of pop music is what you get. “Lovesong” was written about Bea’s long-term boyfriend, which she passes off as “just another love song“. Far from it, you instantly become immersed in a blissful and sweet melody being reminded all the time of Bea’s angelic voice. “Pictures Of Us” follows up with a tuneful hit of indie and meandering guitar noodling. Co-written with and featuring vocals from Matt Healy from The 1975, the song has a cinematic and wholesome feel to it.
“Fairy Song” is bouncy, happy, and chilled all at once. The middle of the track makes way for a bit of a psychedelic interlude using effects pedals to their max, often sounding like something from Sgt. Pepper. Next up is “Don’t Get The Deal”. Punchy drums and gentle acoustic guitar picking are peppered with Bea’s airy vocals and distorted guitars; the track ebbs and flows, in true indie style. “Tinkerbell Is Overrated”, features PinkPantheress of TikTok fame, delivers a familiar country style, Telecaster sounding guitar, Bea’s sweet and youthful sounding vocals; backed by a distinct electronic beat. Bringing what could be described as the Beatopia trip to an end is “You’re Here, That’s The Thing”. The song skips along, unmistakable sweet and airy vocals sitting perfectly on top of some silky smooth accompaniment.
This album is unpredictable, thoroughly enjoyable, lyrically clever, and musically diverse, and I can’t wait to hear what she does next.
Bea has toured across the world, supporting the likes of The 1975 and Clairo, and to celebrate the release of the album, Bea embarks on a headline tour of the UK this October. Tickets are on sale now from: www.beabadoobee.com
Tue 04 DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Wed 05 BELFAST Ulster Hall
Fri 07 BRISTOL Academy
Sat 08 NORWICH UEA
Mon 10 NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Tue 11 NEWCASTLE NX
Thu 13 MANCHESTER Academy
Fri 14 SHEFFIELD Foundry
Sat 15 GLASGOW Barrowland
Mon 17 BRIGHTON Chalk
Tue 18 SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms
Wed 19 LONDON Brixton Academy
Written by Juan Brooks
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