Bea Kristi scarcely knew what she started. Uploading her first demo ‘Coffee’ to YouTube, she needed a name – started almost as a joke, beabadoobee quickly went viral, and ‘Coffee’ became the point of no return, the moment when shit got real.
Ever since then it’s been a whirlwind. The Filipino-born, West London raised songwriter signed to Dirty Hit, hung out with her heroes, and released a stream of phenomenal indie pop jewels, balancing the arch observational eye of hero and sparring partner Stephen Malkmus with some sublime melodies with a nagging 90s feel.
Debut album ‘Fake It Flowers’ is much more than her story so far – it’s Bea in 360, the clearest, most honest depiction of her life, her thoughts that we’ve had to date. Moving from cute, coy indie pop through to screamo, it touches on the innocent melodies of OPM while betraying some of her darker emotions.
Lead single ‘Care’ sets the tone. The voice wrangles with conflicting statements, struggling not to care while being swept up in her emotions – as potent depictions of adolescent angst go, it’s up there with the best of ‘em.
‘Worth It’ and ‘Dye It Red’ crunch hard, the guitar tone and vocal techniques honed on those mammoth tours, moving from sweatpit venues to actual arenas. Throughout, beabadoobee displays incredible control – each note, each moment feels endlessly poised, pursued to the final degree of emotional worth.
The twists and turns of word play that fuel ‘Charlie Brown’ pluck at the heartstrings, treating your chest like a worn out Telecaster, while ‘Sorry’ and the love-lorn ‘Horen Sarrison’ pull down the divide between Bea’s life and listener.
At times glossy at others unadorned, beabadoobee seems to be in thrall to the inner needs of her songwriting. She’s chasing something, and it’s a real ride to move along with her – just check out the seismic difference between ‘Back To Mars’ for example, and DIY lockdown hymn ‘How Was Your Day?’, recorded in her boyfriend’s parents garden.
Indeed, the latter is a reminder that no matter how natural, how innate beabadoobee’s pop instincts are, she remains tied to outsider artists. First handed the guitar by her father as an attempt to shake her out of a teenage slump, it’s become the means for Bea to process and define her emotions – underneath the production, the drama, the sold out shows, her approach is akin to early hero Daniel Johnston, proffering cassette tapes to strangers in the street, asking them to listen.
There’s a purity to the way ‘Fake It Flowers’ unfolds that, well, can’t be faked. Ending with the delirious joy of ‘Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene’ it’s a record that hauls together many different layers, colours, and hues, a subtle but extremely immediate project that displays beabadoobee’s songwriting in full bloom.
A real pearl of a record, ‘Fake It Flowers’ is a starting statement that runs on unmitigated confidence, a revealing, enthralling, enchanting debut record, one that finally finds beabadoobee throwing open the gates and letting the world into her life. It’s a joy to behold.
Words: Robin Murray
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