Beabadoobee Is Still Getting There on 'Beatopia'
Remember bedroom-pop? That bubbly lo-fi sound that filled our Discovery Weeklys and YouTube suggestions, making it seem like anybody in your high school math class could become the next pop star? In 2022, it officially feels like all of those kids have graduated. Steve Lacy has been nominated for a Grammy, Clairo has become a huge headlining act, and Alex G has become something of an indie-rock elder statesman, joining Frank Ocean on tour and even playing on late night TV.
One bedroom-dweller I have found particularly interesting to watch is Beabadoobee, a 22 year old singer-songwriter who first gained popularity with a small catalog that consisted of a mixture of quiet coffee house tracks and 90’s alt rock homages, including my personal favorite, “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus.”
After getting her first TikTok hit with the subdued “Coffee,” Beatrice Laus, the Bea behind the Abadoobee, released her debut album Fake It Flowers, which referred less to Starbucks and Pavement and more to Y2k pop-grunge. In the end, it was a boring disappointment, lacking most of the vigor and charm that fueled her early music.
On her latest record, Beabadoobee invites us into “Beatopia,” an imaginary dream-world that she would escape to when she was a child. In this world, she can be free and happy, stress-free.
After listening to Beatopia, this might have just been what Laus needed. On this record, the hits hit harder, the ballads are better written, and Laus sounds excited for the first time since becoming an internet pop star.
There’s “The Perfect Pair,” which involves a bossa nova instrumental. There’s “Pictures of Us,” a midwest-emo track that sounds straight from the attic of the American Football house. And then there’s “Tinkerbell is Overrated” which features Pinkpantheress and a splash electronic. Sometimes the new ideas fall flat, yet never to the point of destruction. If anything, Beatopia’s failures are as colorful as the world they live in.
The Y2k buzz from Fake it Flowers is still present, and that’s okay. With all of the new artists coming up, attempting to sound like Avril Lavigne, Laus might actually do it best. Songs like “Sunny Day,” “Talk,” and “Don’t Get The Deal,” which borrow from that soune, are some of her best performances yet. Over everything, this album proves that when Beabadoobee hits, she hits.
Nevertheless, it still loses me at points. Particularly her writing, which seems like an obvious mirror of Matty Healy of The 1975, who she first collaborated with on an EP last year. When it works it works, but when it doesn’t, it feels as uninspired as her debut.
It still feels like Laus hasn’t shown us who Beabadoobe is or what exactly she’s capable of. She remains to be lost in her limbo, not finding the right footing anywhere she goes. It’s a step-up from Fake it Flowers, but it is hardly impressive.
At her highest, it seems like Beabadoobee can take over the world. I’m ready for it, but I just hope she is too.
Beatopia is out now.