Once in a while, an album comes along that is immediately brilliant. You remember a time when all music sounded this good, and this fresh, but then you can’t quite remember when that was. Like a Brexiteer’s memory of a mythical past that is rose tinted and idyllic, while pointing to a future that is full of promise, free of the drudgery and dross that plagues the present day, Future Me Hates Me pillages the highlights of the past six decades and conflates them into a singular sound. It’s a sound that never really existed but is immediately comfortable, and familiar. The Sundays are reflected in the title track and they share the space with Feeder, The Smiths, The Turtles and Sophie Ellis Bextor. ‘Uptown Girl’ sounds like a more explicitly punk version of ‘Echo Beach’, while ‘You Wouldn’t Like Me’ could be a offcut from Weezer’s debut album, if Pete Shelley were writing for them. Or ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ played by The Dead Milkmen and The Beautiful South.
The band don’t pause for breath until the intro to ‘Little Death’. The song has a singer songwriter feel until the first chorus hits with downstroked power chords. Galloping paradiddles lift the second verse, and the massive chorus is elevatedby counter vocals that Mike Mills would be proud of. REM are a big influence as are The Ramones and The Beatles. Elsewhere The Kinks, The Pixies and Frank Zappa duel on ‘Happy Unhappy’, while ELO, Tommy James & The Shondells, and Jimmy Eat World meet on ‘Whatever’.
All four members are trained jazz musicians but thankfully the results don’t sound jazzy. No one actually likes jazz, it’s just a way to appear sophisticated when you can’t write proper songs. The Beths do, however, throw in influences from all over the musical spectrum. They integrate them seamlessly into a power pop gem, the likes of which are rare. Like the very best bands, they make it sound so easy. It’s as if these songs were lying around waiting to be discovered but they were so obviously great that everyone ignored them until The Beths picked them up and dusted them off.
Elizabeth Stokes has a great voice. It’s hard to escape the feeling that if she were Irish, she’d be a critically lauded solo singer; earnest and touching, but commercially adrift in a sea of similar artists. But with this band around her, the songs sound fully realised and viscerally thrilling. Maybe it takes four jazz musicians to show the current crop of milquetoast rock stars how to write pop songs again. If you are despairing at the current state of guitar music, perhaps listening to the latest Arctic Monkeys or Foo Fighters record for the umpteenth time in the hope that this time it will light a fire in your belly, as it has failed to do so many times before, then Future Me Hates Me is the tonic you need. It will restore your faith.
Maybe I’m overselling this?
TL;DR? The Beths are deadly.