Expert in a Dying Field
The Beths’ third album finds the Aotearoa indie rockers tighter and brighter than ever, packing chiming melodies and big, buoyant choruses. Elizabeth Stokes’ poignant vocals and diaristic lyrics continue to translate everyday foibles into memorable asides (“Here I go again, mixing drinks and messages”), while lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce proves animated at every turn (see the wild splay of a solo capping off “Silence Is Golden”). For all its noisy freshness, Expert in a Dying Field also plays like a studied parallel to the classic power-pop songbook, dispensing sunny harmonies and sharp dynamic shifts. Recorded mostly in Pearce’s own studio, this outing sees all of the band’s strengths balanced across the board. That means Stokes’ witticisms enjoy just as much attention as the fuzzy push-and-pull of the music, alternately driving ahead and pulling back with increasing precision. Stokes may label herself an expert in a dying field when singing about love on the opening title track, but The Beths make whip-smart indie rock look like a flourishing profession indeed.