So, Radiohead’s new album A Moon Shaped Pool came out about a week ago, and I’ve pretty much been listening to nothing but that for the last eight days. It’s fantastic— honestly, I can’t really wrap my head around it fully. With that being said, when I was assigned the review for The Beths, a four piece power pop/ alternative rock band from Auckland, New Zealand, I was pretty relieved, as their content is very direct, in your face, and forthright; a total contrast from A Moon Shaped Pool. This ‘90s inspired band have released a five-song EP titled Warm Blood, which is sure to keep your foot tapping from beginning to end.
I would first like to draw attention to the quality of production of the EP— recorded, mixed and mastered by the band’s own guitarist Jonathan Pearce; the quality is exceptionally high and makes it really easy to experience the EP in its ideal fashion. It is clear from the get-go that Warm Blood is a guitar and vocal oriented album, and the straightforward production does a good job of accentuating that. The guitar tones are huge, and the vocals are clear and natural sounding. When listening, it is obvious that the members have been playing with each other for quite some time, as everything is incredibly tight and sounds very relaxed. Nothing is forced, nothing is strained and everything is there.
The first song on the EP “Whatever” is a really strong opening track and is a fairly good indication of what is to come out of the rest of the EP. A fun track, this song features a strong vocal performance from the band’s front-woman and chief songwriter Elizabeth Stokes and a repetitive guitar riff that works really well within the structure of the song. The Beths do a really good job creating a big sound yet maintaining a solid amount of space to distance the heavier parts of the song in order to create more of an impact when those parts hit. To be completely honest, this is a really nice pop-rock tune that I can see attracting some attention amongst those that dig the likes of Weezer or Wolf Alice.
Along the lines of Weezer, the last song on the EP “Lying In the Sun” sounds like it comes directly from the Blue Album. By this I don’t mean to insinuate any notions of derivation, but rather to draw attention to the strength and captivating nature of the song. The background “Ahhhs” combined with the four-chord progression really hints at ‘90s inspired alt rock. As a closer, I think this song was the right choice as it possesses a similar structure to the opening track, yet contains a completely different mood that functions really well as a departing tune.
Warm Blood was an excellent EP to sober me up from A Moon Shaped Pool, and adding on to that, is just a great EP in general. Sometimes you need to rock out, play some air guitar and jump around, and Warm Blood captures that mood really well. While listening to the music, I got the sense that this group would hold their weight live as well, as it seemed like they stayed true to their nature as a four-piece, not consistently overdubbing, double-tracking or adding extra instruments. With this being said, the sound was always full, and no elements were lacking. This New Zealand coterie contains some pretty awesome potential and if Warm Blood is any indication of their future as a band, I’m really looking forward to seeing where they end up.
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