The Beths – ‘Jump Rope Gazers’

By Tom Walsh

Every one of us, at some stage, will reach a point in our lives where distance wedges itself between us and the people we love. Long-lasting friendships feel strained, relationships become a chore, and once prominent figures in our lives drift away. It’s not always something we necessarily want, but there is an inevitability that in an increasingly more accessible world we can’t avoid.

This distance is something that New Zealand indie band The Beths attempt to reckon with on their latest record ‘Jump Rope Gazers’. Since the release of debut album ‘Future Me Hates Me’ in 2018, it has been a life-altering whirlwind of success. Being in a band is no longer a passion project, but a career, and they’ve toured the world garnering a new army of fans.

Yet amidst this success, they’re realising that the distance between themselves and the ones they love becomes more and more of an issue. Songwriter and lead vocalist Elizabeth Stokes writes the simplest of desires with the line, “It’s you who I want to run into” on ‘Acrid’, while the track ‘Don’t Go Away’ is an almost pleading refrain for people close to her to not lose touch.

Stokes wrote a lot of ‘Jump Rope Gazers’ while on tour, and that sense of longing for home and the people she misses is evident throughout. ‘Dying to Believe’ speaks of her desire to hold on to those relationships, interspersed with public transport announcements, highlighting how distance and time finds a way to keep us apart.

In a way, The Beths are able to demonstrate the double-edged sword of chasing your dreams and ‘Jump Rope Gazers’ is a perfect encapsulation of why they have to make these difficult decisions. It’s a wonderful slice of indie rock, filled with poppy hooks and uplifting sentiments, yet managing to tackle issues of anxiety and self-doubt.

Stokes is clearly comfortable penning uptempo power pop tracks such as ‘Mars, the God of War’, and heartbreaking lullabies like ‘Do You Want Me Now?’, which demonstrates why such critical acclaim has come their way. It’s also why ‘Jump Rope Gazers’ makes for the most apt follow-up to ‘Future Me Hates Me’ – it’s more refined, a little more ambitious, and showcases a band adapting to their new status.

The Beths’ star is undoubtedly going to shine even brighter following ‘Jump Rope Gazers’, as its release will bring plaudits that by now are all too familiar to the band. This inevitable praise will be well-deserved for many reasons, the importance and power of its message of communication and fighting to keep relationships together – even when distance becomes an enormous obstacle – being more poignant than ever in these trying times. 

TOM WALSH

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