It seems hard to believe that beabadoobee (Beatrice Laus) has been nudging her way around the collective consciousness since 2018. In that time, she hasn’t strayed enormously from her core sound and, although her sophomore album release comes bathed in a sense of maturity, she thankfully is still very much a bedroom trobairitz (that’s a female troubadour – unfortunately, the word troubadour needs a feminine version since their identity was very much based around being thirsty, other-men’s-wife-enjoying horndogs) as opposed to a chanteuse.
From a sartorial and aesthetic viewpoint, it’s hard to describe beabadoobee without using the G word (the one that rhymes with sponge). Musically, and in the live environment particularly, there are very obvious early-90s reference points for those old enough to have existed in that particular period of extremely offline history, and both of these attributes knit together with all the functional elegance of Lego bricks.
The new album gets off to a bit of spaced-out start with ‘Beatopia Cultsong’, a groovy acoustic head- nodder reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin.
This quickly gives way to most recent single ‘10:36’. If you somehow haven’t heard it, you will soon.
It’s a blazing slice of guitar pop with soaring verses as catchy as the chorus. This is an entirely personal take, but I think this song is my long-sought sweet spot between Miley Cyrus and Juliana Hatfield. It’s perfect and the reason someone you saw on the bus today was tapping their feet.
‘Sunny Day’ feels as if it’s produced slightly differently to the rest of the record, with a relatively big, saturated bass kick in the middle of the mix. This propels the song, giving it an airy, summer feel even if the lyrics are slightly more regretful than the melody and the title suggest. One of four singles so far, ‘See You Soon’ highlights beabadoobee’s eminent songwriting maturity.
Relatable and hummable enough to worm into your brain but with the sort of deceptively simple, uplifting chorus that other songwriters would trade an organ for. Not an organ with keys and pipes on it and that. A semi-vital one like a spleen or a kidney or an eye. There’s a sort of alchemy when a chorus sounds like the natural end of each verse, and it probably is worth at least a retina in the real, global market.
‘Ripples’ is a delightfully honest acoustic song at its core but manages to pile strings on top of strings and then, just as the listener anticipates a stripping back in the last 30 seconds, yet more strings appear.
It’s followed by ‘The Perfect Pair’ which keeps the acoustic core but is set to a very Parisian rhythm. The intro to ‘Broken CD’ fools you into thinking that it’s the final part of a lowkey trilogy, but it cleverly moves between quiet tales of heartbreak at 17 with a rather forthright middle section.
The first single from Beatopia was ‘Talk’, a buzzing, bass-led rumble with a pleasingly broken- sounding solo section.
‘Lovesong’ is another one you’ve possibly already heard. It’s an intimate confessional on the face of it but it shows one of beabadoobee’s compositional strengths. When you think you’ve already heard the chorus, it turns out she’s got another refrain to build on what’s gone before.
‘Pictures of Us’ is another song which grows as it goes in an almost organic manner, but it’s worth giving it a listen for the intro alone. A prominent, crisp, yet heavily reverb-soaked guitar line surrounded by lush, dreamy vocal harmonies. It develops into a perfectly mature song for the rest of its runtime, but it does peak in the first minute.
‘Fairy Song’ is driven by an enjoyably loose drum beat with synth chimes dancing around the vocal melody. It gets noisy exactly when you want it to and reins in the noise just before the song derails into chaos.
Managing to start off with a simple three-note chord arpeggio befitting a nursery rhyme, ‘Don’t Get the Deal’ again gets its quiet and loud bits sequenced in a way that means every loud bit sounds like a relief.
Featuring Pink Pantheress, ‘Tinkerbell is Overrated’ blends the two overlapping vocals over a shifting arrangement that means that the last minute hits 30 percent harder than it has any right to hit.
The second side is definitely lower in tempo compared to the first, and closer ‘You’re Here That’s the Thing’ signs off with an achingly sweet bluesy verse tied to a very folky chorus. It’s a signature bedroom-songwriter song and a really fitting way to end a remarkably assured collection of songs.
Albums can be many things and still work. They can be a sprawling concept, a greatest hits, or a self-indulgent side project with a banjoist and an arrhythmic gong. Sometimes, though, arguably when they are at their very best, they can just be a collection of good, well-crafted pop songs with enough of a glimpse of the individual soul behind them to keep them in people’s hearts for decades hence.
Incidentally, I love the name. I think having a variation of the word doobie in your name always works whether you’re a beaba, a brother, or the funkiest (the last one is Funkdoobiest – it would be much funnier if they were more widely remembered, and we didn’t have to end this column with a clumsy parenthesis explaining a pure Da-level pun).
Beatopia is out 15th July via Dirty Hit
beabadoobee is playing TRNSMT on the 8th July