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CD of The Week

Week of 7/18/22

    beabadoobee - beatopia (Dirty Hit)

    The make-believe mind of a seven-year-old can be an extravagant place filled with elaborate imaginary friends, self-designed mythical creatures, and wondrous worlds. While some create such a place out of boredom or an enhanced need for creativity, some develop such a place as a retreat from reality. Beatrice Kristi Laus, better known by her moniker beabadoobee, drew up a world she could escape to after her family emigrated to London from the Philippines. When she was 7 and enjoying her private world, a teacher stripped that security away by hastily displaying her detailed, handcrafted fantasy world map without permission, embarrassing the young artist in front of her class to the point where she suppressed that part of her universe.

    Now fifteen years later, Laus has gained the confidence and support as beabadoobee to revisit that traumatizing experience, owning the idyllic part of the memory, and repackaging it as the inspiration for her second album, beatopia.

    When visiting beatopia, one can find that her songwriting has evolved; stripping away the fuzzy grunge veneer, leaving breathy, intimate vocals and a delicate soundtrack that scores her consciousness. Although the catchy singles “10:36” and standout track “Talk” flirt with the distorted production favored on 2020’s Fake It Flowers, they surely would have sounded heavier were they two years older. Many of the songs here are sleepy, laid-back stoner jams, like “Sunny Day.” Even “The Perfect Pair” is uncharacteristically built around a blissful bossa nova rhythm.

    This batch of songs was also groundbreaking for beabadoobee as an artist, as it is the first time she has really invited other musicians into beatopia. Black Country, New Road’s Georgia Ellery layers violins over much of the album, particularly on the slow-moving, gentle film score of “Ripples.”  PinkPantheress donates her harmony on the scattered country ballad “Tinkerbell Is Overrated” which transitions to a pixie dance-off. The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel add production assistance in abundance, while Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club and Cavetown’s Robin Skinner round out the contribution credits.

    As one leaves beatopia, “You’re Here That’s The Thing,” (co-written with Healy) plays out as if it were to accompany a credit crawl, encapsulating the tone of the album. What once was a piece of fiction inside one little girl’s mind has now become a full-blown piece of artwork, with purpose and focused craftsmanship. If looking for a collection of light, airy, atmospheric soundscapes, beatopia would be a four-star rated destination.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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