Our top 10 songs from The Beths look at the body of work of a New Zealand band revered for its indie rock/indie pop sound. The band was formed in 2014 by vocalist Elizabeth Strokes, guitarist Jonathan Pearce, bassist Benjamin Sinclair, and drummer Ivan Luketina-Johnston. Beforehand, the foursome shared some musical passion having them study jazz at the University of Auckland.
Unquestionably, Elizabeth’s croons and lyrical prowess remain to be The Beths’ major pillars of success. However, it is undeniable how the harmonized backing vocals from the rest of the members spice her vocals delivery with extra allure. Melodic hooks and killer guitar riffs have also won The Beths critical acclaim in New Zealand and Australia, managing quite a huge following among indie rock/indie pop fans worldwide.
The Beths’ Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
In the 2010s, we saw tons of artists rise to fame after gaining some popularity after sharing their music on SoundCloud. Among artists who made it big after issuing their debut singles/EPs on SoundCloud include Post Malone, Kehlani, Ella Mai, and Billie Eilish. This leads us to The Beths’ attempt to make their version of SoundCloud success story with their debut single “Idea/Intent,” issued on SoundCloud in July 2015.
Unfortunately, the rise to popularity was slower than any of the members might have anticipated but the band would eventually get a big break a few months down the line. Some financial support came in the way for The Beths from NZ on Air, aiding the band to issue the single “Whatever.” “Whatever,” instantly rose to become one of the best songs from The Beths, maintaining fan-favorite status to date. Later in March 2016, the band issued its five-track debut extended play Warm Blood. “Idea/Intent” and “Whatever” are some of the musical gems featured on the EP Warm Blood.
Album Releases by The Beths Over the Years
After a fairly successful extended play, The Beths returned in 2018 with their debut studio album Future Me Hates Me. The album was issued through Carpark Records, with the band leaving its lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce to handle its production. Future Me Hates Me was made up of hook-filled indie rock ballads whose themes illuminated Elizabeth’s prowess in penning ballads laden with self-deprecatory themes.
The band’s debut studio album was quite impressive making it to the nineteenth spot on the New Zealand Albums Chart. While Future Me Hates Me only made it to the New Zealand Charts, it opened the band to a greater audience within and outside the band’s homeland. “Happy Unhappy” “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” “Little Death,” “Whatever,” and the album title track are some of the best songs from The Beths featured on this indie rock/alternative rock album.
Jump Rope Gazers, issued in July 2020, marked the band’s sophomore studio album. The ten-track studio album earned The Beths the second spot on the New Zealand Albums Chart. Jump Rope Gazers saw the band issue a blend of its staple indie rock and power pop sounds with tinges of alternative rock influences. “I’m Not Getting Excited,” “Dying to Believe,” “Out of Sight,” and the album title track are the popular songs by The Beths featured on Jump Rope Gazers.
In September 2023, The Beths went ahead to release Expert in a Dying Field, as the band’s third studio album. With Expert in a Dying Field, The Beths barely gave us a taste of its signature self-deprecator-themed power pop-tinged ballads, opting to incline towards existential themes and the indie rock sound. Surprisingly, the LP rose to become the band’s highest-charting album, topping the New Zealand Albums Chart.
The album also made it to the eightieth spot on the ARIA Albums Chart. Expert in a Dying Field was critically acclaimed by tons of critics from the US, earning The Beths some prestige as one of the rising rock acts from New Zealand. “Silence is Golden,” Knees Deep,” and the album title track are some of the best songs from The Beths featured on Expert in a Dying Field.
The Beths’ Legacy
The Beths has by quite a margin failed to match the impact of indie rock acts such as The White Stripes, The Hives, and The Strokes. However, its star as one of New Zealand’s leading rock bands shines brighter with each release. The Beths join Shihad, The Phoenix Foundation, Th’ Dudes, Flight of the Concords, and The Datsuns as some of the most revered New Zealand rock acts. Here we present the all-time ten best songs from The Beths.
#10- You Wouldn’t Like Me
Ushering us to the ten best songs from The Beths is the poignant hit “You Wouldn’t Like Me.” The song is featured on the band’s debut studio album Future Me Hates Me. “You Wouldn’t Like Me” is an anxiety-laden track that has its lyrics alluding to self-doubt. While the song’s theme feels quite saddening, “You Wouldn’t Like Me” manages to strike some bittersweet feel thanks to its catchy melody. Specifically, the singalong chorus and handclap influence add to the catchiness of this song.
#9- Out of Sight
“Out of Sight” introduces us to The Beths’ outstanding power pop delivery. The song is among the brightest hits off the band’s sophomore studio album Jump Rope Gazers. “Out of Sight” is among a catchy power pop ballad tinged with some ‘90s-Esque alternative rock influences. The song features some killer guitar riffs that bring the true value of Jonathan Pearce’s musicianship to the band.
“Out of Sight” finds Stokes digging deeper into her emotive delivery as guided by the overly personal lyrical content. The song finds Elizabeth Stokes contemplating about remaining dedicated to a loved one — More like a ballad to one’s declaration of “In sickness and in health,” as Stokes revealed in an interview once. Elizabeth went ahead to commend Benjamin Sinclair for his impressive work on the bass, citing the basslines to be quite melodic, a move that aided the song to achieve an exclusive texture.
#8- Silence is Golden
Number eight on our ten best songs from The Beths is the striking hit “Silence is Golden.” The song was issued by The Beths on the album Expert in Dying Field. Like most of the songs off Expert in Dying Field, “Silence is Golden” finds the band featuring less of its self-deprecatory themes, venturing into more existential themes. Issued on June 2022, “Silence is Golden” finds The Beths talking about stress and anxiety.
Silence seems to have become precious for the singer, having her grow intolerant to noise — Any noise seems to intensify her anxiety and stress levels, something most of us can relate to pretty well. Other distinguished classic rock acts whose music has severally ventured into existential themes include As I Lay Dying, The Cure, and The Verve to name a few.
#7- Little Death
As it will be discussed later in this list, “Future Me Hates Me,” the album title track to the band’s debut LP heavily tells us of the singer’s mental torment that emanates from falling head over heels for someone while still possessing some fear of the unknown. “Little Death” is just another version of “Future Me Hates Me,” albeit expounding more on the physical impact of the same rather than the mental/emotional torment coupled with the situation. A new relationship for Stokes feels like a “Little Death” owing to her extreme physical impulses from a harder heartbeat, weak legs, and tougher moments catching a breath!
#6- Happy Unhappy
Coming in at number six on our ten best songs from The Beths is the charming hit “Happy Unhappy.” The song is yet another impressive hit off the band’s debut studio album Future Me Hates Me. “Happy Unhappy” has its lyrics expounding on the feelings that emanate from having a crush on someone. While it is quite a great adventure having a person you crushed on, Stokes reveals that it gets suffocating sometimes owing to the need for time to do personal things.
As a result, this leads to struggles with the new love resulting in a “Happy Unhappy” relationship. One thing that stands out in this song, is Elizabeth Stokes’ vocal delivery which is surely stunning! Jonathan Pearce also delivers one of his best performances, giving us a taste of his energetic killer guitar riffs.
#5- Dying to Believe
Let’s roll back to the band’s sophomore studio album Jump Rope Gazers where we find the striking pop-rock hit “Dying to Believe.” Once more Elizabeth takes The Beths through the band’s signature self-deprecatory lyrical themes. In this song, Stokes sings about her how being a calm being leads to resentment against herself specifically after indulging in conversations that she dislikes.
Stokes went on to reveal in an interview that her nature has led her to hold on to some “toxic” relationships that should have ended sometime earlier. Additional vocals from comedian Rose Matafeo can be heard alongside Stokes’ vocal delivery.
The fourth hit on our ten best songs from The Beths is the impressive track “Whatever.” “Whatever” was first featured on the band’s debut extended play Warm Blood. Later it was featured on the band’s debut studio album Future Me Hates Me. Like songs on the EP Warm Blood, “Whatever” is delivered with infectious hooks fired up by the energetic guitar riffs.
“Whatever” has its lyrics alluding to Stokes’ encounter with a close individual who constantly annoys her resulting in a broken heart.
Among the annoying things that the close individual/partner does is constantly lie, giving tall tales in an attempt to cover up for their dishonest acts. While “Whatever” is the only hit off Warm Blood to feature on our ten best The Beths songs list, we feel indebted not to have shortlisted the energetic track “Idea/Intent,” which served as an introductory hit to The Beths’ power pop/indie rock excellence.
#3- Expert in Dying Field
Coming in at number three on our ten best songs from The Beths is the magnificent hit “Expert in Dying Field.” The song serves as the album opener and title track to the band’s third studio album. “Expert in Dying Field” finds the singer grappling with emotions from an ended intimate relationship. The song rose to become one of the band’s concert staple tracks immediately after its release, superseding almost all songs from the band’s third studio album.
#2- I’m Not Getting Excited
“I’m Not Excited” is the archetypal hit to The Beths’ musicianship on the band’s sophomore studio album Jump Rope Gazers. This relentless power pop ballad is by far one of the most charged-up rockers ever issued by the band. Elizabeth gives us a taste of her falsetto vocals in the chorus. While she might not be as brilliant as other female rock stars like Joni Mitchell on the falsetto (check “My Old Man”), her delivery is quite impressive. Talking about the song’s meaning, Elizabeth revealed that the idea for the hit “I’m Not Excited”’ sprouted from the question by many where she is excited.
Elizabeth boldly nods in agreement to the question citing to have been content, or rather happy. After all, The Beths’ music career seemed to have been burgeoning with the band going on tours worldwide sharing stages with Death Cab for Cutie among other rock acts. However, a small voice in her tells her not to be excited.
#1- Future Me Hates Me
Number one on our ten best songs from The Beths is the impressive hit “Future Me Hates Me.” The song was issued as the album title track to The Beths’ debut studio album. Themes of risk aversion and hesitancy are boldly featured on this hit as exhibited by the lyrics. The song’s lyrics might at first sound more like a song about falling in love. However, the themes of hesitancy and self-doubt are interweaved in Stokes’ fear to risk her heart for the new relationship.
While songs on the album sound a tad bit self-deprecating, Stokes offers some hope towards gaining confidence in the song “Future Me Hates Me.” In the song, we find her letting go of her self-doubt and falling so hard for someone who gives her some reason to risk it all. “Future Me Hates Me” was among the songs that made it to the last five hits for the 2018 APRA Silver Scroll Awards. The Beths lost the award to “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore” by Marlon Williams featuring Aldous Harding.
Top 10 Songs From The Beths article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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