“I wanted it to feel like a massive trip,” Beabadoobee told NME of her second album ‘Beatopia’ at her first-ever Glastonbury last month. “If [listeners] came out of it feeling like they were in some sort of lucid dream, then I did my job.” The Londoner’s triumphant debut ‘Fake It Flowers’ saw them live up to the role of Gen Z guitar hero – one who could draw influence from the angsty grunge and ‘90s alt-rock of her favourite era, but still create something that would one day evolve into a sound that was truly her own. On ‘Beatopia’, the seeds that were planted in ‘Fake It Flowers’ not only blossom, but inhabit an entirely different world.
What started as a place that existed only as an escapist haven in the imagination of a seven-year-old Bea – a drawing of which was once mocked by a “dickhead” teacher in front of the class – now serves as a “feeling” of acceptance and openness. Finally stopping to smell the flowers, the singer serenely dawdles through ‘Beatopia’s 14 tracks, an album which feels like watching a hazy cloud float by on a balmy spring day. This sense of contentment trickles into the folksy, communal chant of ‘Beatopia Cultsong’, while similarly blissful melodies can be found in the glistening guitar chords of ‘fairy song’ and classical strings of ‘Ripples’.
But interspersed among the album’s most gentle moments, like the chill-hop guitar of ‘Sunny day’ and the syrupy ‘Lovesong’ – which is primed to be snatched up for a sync on the next great coming-of-age TV series – boasts a thrilling rock eruption. Her cursive vocals are magnetic on rowdy lead single ‘Talk’, while ‘10:36’ pairs synths and rousing guitar chords with honest reflections on her personal relationships (“You’re just a warm body to hold / At night when I’m feeling all alone”). There’s also new direction in the swaying Bossa Nova rhythms of ‘the perfect pair’ and the sprawling midwest emo inspired ‘Pictures of Us (co-written with and featuring vocals from The 1975’s Matty Healy).
The most unique song comes in the shape of ‘tinkerbell is overrated’ with PinkPantheress, which lacks the rough edges of the album’s best moments, but speaks to the growth of an artist who is starting to let others into her process, having also written with Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club and borrowed strings from Georgia Ellery of Jockstrap and Black Country, New Road.
The Taylor Swift-approved, shroom-trip inspired ‘See you Soon’ leaps out as the record’s highlight, building sweet, echoey vocals that teeter on the edge of a tantalising crescendo that never fully arrives. The world of ‘Beatopia’ is finally in full bloom again as its creator embraces not only the vibrant colours of their own imagination, but the magic of letting the world in to see.
- Release date: July 15
- Record label: Dirty Hit