Friends, Forgiveness and Magic Mushrooms – Review Beabadoobee, ‘Beatopia’
Until last month, Beabadoobee’s (admittedly pretty short) discography had landed her the job of reigning angsty teenage icon. Her sound has been one of alt-rock and angry vocals. Her interviews have been littered with expletives. The interviews themselves chronicle various drug trips. It’s all been enough to make your mother shudder, and while you listen with rebellious glee. That is until, perhaps, the release of her second album; ‘Beatopia’.
Kristi (AKA: Beabadoobee) is part of the freshly post-pubescent crew of artists who got their start of YouTube in the 2010s. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that her debut album ‘Fake it Flowers’ would abandon her pre-teen bedroom pop for newly-grown-up tumultuous reflection. Accompanying slacker-rock riffs, her punchy lyrics swung from relatable coming-of-age encounters with hair-dye, to painful descriptions of her experiences with self-harm and childhood trauma.
Her new album is both more naively youthful and simultaneously more grownup. ‘Beatopia’ is named after and inspired by the world seven-year-old Kristi dreamt up shortly after moving from Iloilo City in the Philippines to West London, where she felt like an ‘alien’. ‘I got completely obsessed with it; made a crazy poster, came up with an alphabet’, Kristi told ES magazine. After her teacher ridiculed the map and Kristi’s life became disorderly, she forgot about the imaginary land. ‘That’s how you get ‘Fake it Flowers’ where I’m just like ‘blah blah blah; about every fucked up thing that’s happened in my life. ‘Beatopia’ is like, okay fair enough, but you can talk about it in a much healthier way’.
Her first means of approaching the past with more maturity? Delving right back into it. Opening track ‘Beatopia cult song’ is a dreamlike fade into the magical world of seven-year-old Kristi’s psyche, where we stay for the duration of the album. Even the album cover, a doodled blur of pink fairies, teddy bears and butterflies, reclaims the drawing that her teacher derided and plasters it on the Spotify playlists of fans across the globe.
Step two to revisit the past? Coming armed with friends. The album boasts an impressive line-up of collaborations, including Tik-Tok-famed PinkPantheress, half of 1975 and Cavetown. While Matty Healy, who Kristi describes as ‘a big brother’, only appears on ‘Picture of us’, evidence of his song-writing advice is clear throughout the album. Not only does ‘Beatopia’ feature many friends, but it was conceived alongside Krist’s ‘best mate’, Jacob Bugden. Consistently blazed, the two wrote the songs over a few post-lockdown months.
The combined freedom of unfiltered close-friendship and plenty of weed undoubtedly contributed to the album’s more experimental tracks, like ‘Perfect Pair’, which features a jammy bossa nova beat. Bathed in twinkly low-fi production, ‘See you soon’ was the result of particularly enlightening magic mushrooms trip.
Step three? Forgiveness. Playing into the softness of the soft-rock genre, Kristi’s gentle vocals and dreamy production seems apt for an album that examines her past less viciously. Both ‘Broken CD’ and ‘Love Song’ offer up layered acoustic soundscapes, the accompanying entrancing vocals that admit ‘being a mess is not your fault’ feeling like a gentle hug.
The album’s stand out track is undoubtedly ‘Sunny Day’. Jumping a decade from the 90’s alt rock of ‘Fake it Flowers’, ‘Sunny Day’ is a return to the decade in which Kristi conceived (and forgot) the original Beatopia. The undeniably joyful track wouldn’t be misplaced at the credits of noughties rom-com, or bubbling on the radio at Kristi’s childhood sleepovers. The upbeat track embodies the confidence that comes from unabashedly loving what you love – whether that be Nora Jones or your own imaginary world.
Follow and find out more from Kristi here, https://www.instagram.com/p/CgDRvabjYSZ/?hl=en
Words by Kate Bowie