A solid sequel with a cleaner aesthetic and hints of untapped potential from the New Zealand rockers.
The Beths are back on their sophomore record and follow up to awesome 2018 debut Future Me Hates Me, a giddy garage rock throwback with no shortage of catchy hooks and singalong choruses. On Jump Rope Gazers the band hone in on their sound with a more polished version of themselves, but they lose the lightning in a bottle that they captured on their more organic, DIY debut.
The Auckland quartet tightened up their performance and production noticeably on early singles 'I'm Not Getting Excited' and 'Dying to Believe', and this duo of signature Beths takes open up the record with a similar vibe to FMHM, power chord cuts that tease plenty of potential for a live setting. Tracks like these and 'Out of Sight' still pack a punch even with their cleaner aesthetic, but they never quite manage to draw the raw energy that Beths were able to conjure on the likes of 'Happy Unhappy', 'You Wouldn't Like Me', 'Little Death' or the breakneck title track of their previous outing.
All things considered, there are some subtle developments that hint at untapped potential here as Elizabeth Stokes delves deeper into her lyrical repertoire and showcases a more introspective side to her writing throughout these 10 tracks, but perhaps the most rewarding aspects of the album are actually in the band's lighter moments, such the acoustic folk cut 'You Are A Beam of Light' and especially power pop highlights 'Jump Rope Gazers' and closer 'Just Shy of Sure'.
Overall, Beths do enough to get a pass on this solid if unspectacular sequel, but they will need to continue to mine the more productive directions they take on Jump Rope Gazers to avoid sounding like just another indie rock band for future's sake.
6.0 / C
Best Tracks: 'I'm Not Getting Excited'/'Dying to Believe'/'Jump Rope Gazers'
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