Beabadoobee and The 1975 have been circling each other for some time. 20-year-old Bea Kristi first encountered the band as a gassed teenage admirer and in 2017 signed with their label, Dirty Hit, for her own solo work. The band’s frontman Matty Healy played guitar on her 2019 ‘Space Cadet’ EP and she repaid the favour by supporting them at their most recent UK arena tour.
Yet, perhaps surprisingly, ‘Our Extended Play’ marks the pair’s first full collaboration, with Healy and The 1975’s drummer George Daniel co-writing and producing the four tracks at their Oxfordshire recording studio at the start of lockdown last year.
A kinship has always seemed obvious. Both acts are prone to unashamedly pillaging their heroes’ discography for inspiration – Healy’s admiration for Ride and My Bloody Valentine was blatant on their monochrome early work, while Kristi’s infatuation with Pavement’s mercurial frontman on took centre stage on ‘Space Cadet”s ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus’. The pair also both reflect the growing pains of their respective generations. For Bea, it’s Gen Z topics such as body image and mental health, while Healy has become the archetypal millennial rockstar, embracing his generation’s self-deprecation and social media anxiety.
This EP finds both parties appear only marginally influenced by the other’s presence; the scuzzy edges of guitar playing are softened and the production is slightly crisper – a result of some social distancing in the recording booth, perhaps. It’s felt most notably on the EP’s flowered-up lead single ‘Last Day On Earth’, which Bea wrote as the world she was promised – a triumphant tour and festival slots – crumbled around her. Luckily she’s rather laissez-faire about the whole situation (“Haven’t got a plan, so I’m think I’m gonna wing it”), an attitude that spills into a knowingly half-baked chorus: “Shoop-doo, shoop-doo-badoo – oh yeah”.
The remaining tracks offer sharper, more focused songwriting and production that bridges the gap between her grungey earlier work and a potentially pop-orientated future. ‘Animal Noises’ may have remained a homespun acoustic ballad previously, but under Healy and Daniel’s direction she embraces grandiose production and nestles in nicely beside a subtle string section. The steps forward are cautious, but worthwhile.
The urgency of ‘Cologne’ evokes TV on The Radio, or the duelling guitar squalls of The Strokes and Interpol, and closing track ‘He Gets Me So High’ is as dominated by love and heartbreak as anything on her debut; the latter was written entirely by Healy, and had been rumoured to feature on previous 1975 albums.
Repeat listens showcase a project that’s rewarding for both listeners and, by the sounds of it, the artists involved. ‘Our Extended Play’ isn’t a major statement, but if lockdown and the last year has taught us anything, it’s to embrace and cherish the little victories as and when they present themselves.
Release date: June 23
Record label: Dirty Hit