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Expert In A Dying Field is a bundle of joy from The Beths

"Expert In A Dying Field"

Release date: 16 September 2022
The beths expert art
14 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Simon Heavisides

Do titles come much more wry or self deprecating than Expert in a Dying Field?

I mean come on, surely they’re referring to the art of creating vibrant, complex emotionally rich guitar based indie-power pop aren’t they? Well, actually no, but why let reality get in the way of a good angle?

New Zealand’s endlessly globe trotting Beths appeared in most people’s consciousness with their flat out great 2018 debut album, Future Me Hates Me, two years later sophomore slump time beckoned, but was deftly dodged when they upped the ante with the reassuringly banging Jump Rope Gazers.

Rarely has a band managed to make the sound of anxiety and self doubt so thrilling. A paradox maybe, but quite a skill. Elizabeth Stokes weaves the personal into the weft of these songs; relationships come and go; darkness gives way to the sun as it always will. What she doesn’t do is leave us on the outside wishing she would snap out of it and lay off the solipsism, instead Expert in a Dying Field remains consistently engaging, welcoming and involving.

The funny thing is the Beths can kick some serious butt. “Silence is Golden” is a riff shredding blast reminding us that these are musicians who can turn on a dime plunging us into a raging freak-out just as easily as treating us to some shoegaze style atmospherics or a more traditional sweet indie strum. Maybe more bands should play swing and study jazz at Uni?

Expert doesn’t break their template but plays with it ingeniously enough to keep the more demanding listener satisfied, just check “Knees Deep” as it takes a swerve and offers up determined motorik beats. Hooks and details tumble after each other too fast to fully register without repeat plays. On top of that, as we all know, ultimately it’s all about the songs goddammit and right now Elizabeth Stokes seems in possession of the kind of songwriting skill that places her in a rarified layer of the indie firmament.

With Expert in a Dying Field The Beths have created a bundle of sheer sonic joy that confronts, but doesn’t succumb to, all those neuroses most of us know too well. That they make it seem so deceptively easy suggests they truly are experts in a field that, thankfully, refuses to die.

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