Written by Maria Arroyo
New Zealand indie-rock band, The Beths, share their second LP, Jump Rope Grazers. This indie-rock band defies normal band limits and takes you on a hell of a journey with their new release. Jump Rope Grazers came to be during some intense moments between their life on the road. “It was a rough year in general,” lead vocalist Elizabeth Stokes shares.
The album begins with the track “I’m Not Getting Excited” that possesses incredibly high energy and intensity that really woke me up. It reminded me of those top rock band songs that I would play on repeat until I couldn’t sing anymore.
Stokes has a beautifully clear and soft tone to her voice, which is so well contracted behind the grittiness of the band, but the two work perfectly together. “People always ask ‘are you excited!?’ and it’s a fair question because exciting things do happen to us sometimes,” Stokes explains. “So the correct answer is always ‘yes.’ But the truth is that deep down there’s a tiny Liz saying, ‘don’t get excited’.” She is certain that anything good that could happen will most likely not happen, because of a freak accident. “I wrote ‘I’m Not Getting Excited’ last year, well before everything really did get taken away.”
“Dying To Believe” is another song where the contrast between the verses and chorus keeps things exciting and dynamic throughout. “Sometimes you hate a conversation so much it makes you hate yourself,” Stokes says when describing the process of how this song came about. “I am extremely non-confrontational in person, so during those conversations my resentment is turned upon myself and my inability to say what I want to. It’s led to some unhealthy friendships lasting perhaps longer than they should have.”
Their title song, “Jump Rope Grazers,” is so infectiously catchy and well done. I caught myself singing it long after the song was over. “This song is about falling in love,” Stokes shares. “I think there’s nothing scarier than just using the words ‘I love you’ in a song. In a love song. I didn’t manage it on our first album, but I guess I was ready to on this one.”
The title itself is so unconventional, and not something I’ve ever heard used in a song before, but they handle it perfectly. The song isn’t clunky or strange like I thought it would be, but is so well-crafted. Stokes even shares that the tempo of this song alone is so out of the normal for the band, so they could play with a bunch of different ideas that they wouldn’t normally think to do.
Their next song “Acrid” is a catchy song with a super fun guitar solo at the end. This song even showcases some huge staples in old rock music that they have rejuvenated to suit their sound. “Do You Want Me Now” is another catchy song with great lyrics that really stuck with me even after the song was over.
As we progress further into the album, we start to peel away at the hard exterior of their image, which encourages the vulnerability to begin to peek out. This is especially true in their song “Out Of Sight.” Stokes shares that this song is “more fragile than we usually allow ourselves to be. We are trying to listen more deeply and be more open-ended, it was confronting to do and sometimes even frustrating.” This song has lyrics that are put together very well, and that tells a beautiful story that is only enhanced by the music supporting it.
Their full acoustic single, “You Are A Beam Of Light,” is another highlight of the album for me. They perform it so well, and the song is beautifully written. The vocals and instrumentation finally match each other, but not in a cheesy way. I really loved being able to hear this side of them, and even happier that they decided to share this side of them for everyone to appreciate.
Their closing song, “Just Shy Of Sure,” is a beautiful mixture of their hard rock sound with their newfound soft and simple sound. There are so many different elements and texture to bring this song to life, a song that “looks ahead and wonders how things will turn out” making it the perfect choice to close out their incredible album with.
The Beths have done an incredible job of exploring all of these different ideas and inspirations, and the amount of musicianship behind it is very apparent, which made me love it every step of the way. They bring back the fun elements of older well done old rock tunes, but with a modern and youthful burst of energy that really works for them. Once again, you all have gained a new fan!
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