The Beths: Future Me Hates Me (2018)
I call bullshit.
Sure, maybe it gets a little harder to be truly innovative; there's only so much you can do with guitar-bass-drums and a handful of chords, right? If you sketched out a graph of truly innovative artists who came up with something new and different, it would gradually flatten over time, from the wild explosion of the 60s, to a few new directions in the 70s and 80s, then increasingly fewer radical changes. (Personally, I'm not sure I can think of a lot of rock artists who truly changed the genre in recent years -- Pavement in the 90s, but since then?)
But that doesn't mean artists aren't continuing to produce great albums in tried and true genres.
Which brings me to the Beths, a New Zealand four-piece who released my favorite album of 2018. It's squarely in the noise-pop tradition -- catchy distorted guitar riffs, verses about love and breakups and sunshine rising into choruses that get stuck in your head for weeks. Fronted by a female vocalist with a distinct spin, both vocally and lyrically.
The title track itself is an absolutely killer song, the sort of thing that would be #1 with a bullet on the radio in a just universe, with a perfect mastery of the Pixies' famed loud-quiet-loud dynamic and incisive lyrics of doomed love.
There's something about you, I wanna risk going through
Future heart break, future headaches, wide-eyed nights late lying awake
With future cold shakes from stupid mistakes future me hates me for.
Damn, I love that.
The ratio of perfect pop songs to just merely really good songs is surprisingly high, particularly for a debut album, and I keep going back to the album and picking out new favorites.
(I'd say that these days much of the best power pop and noise pop is coming from bands fronted by women. My favorite album of 2017 was in a similar vein, Canadian band Alvvays' Antisocialites. Plus a ton of others -- Waxahatchee, Say Sue Me, Charly Bliss, The Courtneys, Weakened Friends, Muncie Girls, Skating Polly... gotta say, the guys are falling way behind.)
Here's a fun little video for the title track: