Beatenberg - On the way to Beatenberg EP Music Album Reviews

Beatenberg - On the way to Beatenberg EP Music Album Reviews
The South African indie pop trio returns from hiatus sounding wiser, softer, and as virtuosic as ever. 

Since their 2011 debut, the South African trio Beatenberg have balanced syrupy melodies with sophisticated emotions and simple arrangements with elegant, perceptive writing. They’re well-versed in classical, jazz, and Afrobeats, and on their 2018 full-length 12 Views of Beatenberg, they scattered these touchstones across otherwise straightforward indie pop. Still, there were moments where their slick, happy-go-lucky shtick lacked substance. Though the album found success in South Africa, Beatenberg hadn’t achieved the international acclaim they desired, so they took a break. Bassist and lead producer Ross Dorkin went to London to earn a graduate degree and produce for other artists; drummer Robin Brink moved to Berlin to revel in his love for dance music; and lead singer and guitarist Matthew Field stayed in Cape Town, where he put out two terrific solo EPs that allowed him to experiment within the Beatenberg universe while also carving out a lane of his own.

On the trio’s first new release in four years, On the way to Beatenberg, they sound wiser, softer, and as virtuosic as ever. Dorkin’s production has evolved to favor subtle, organic textures, as if he’d purged every plug-in from his DAW and opted to go analog. Field, whose voice coasts over the focused, sunny compositions with an unassuming cool, sings some of the most memorable melodies and incisive lyrics of his career. With a soothing calm, he explores climate disaster, apathetic consumerism, and social media-provoked loneliness. Like the best beach reads, On the way to Beatenberg satisfies a sweet tooth while remaining agile, its big ideas buried beneath rhythmic guitars, colorful piano, and as many hand drums as one could possibly ask for.

This tightrope walk between pleasure and profundity is on full display on the Msaki-assisted “White Shadow,” an uplifting song about externalizing one’s inner life. The plucky acoustic fingerpicking and subdued string arrangement give way to Msaki’s beautiful, booming chorus: “Don’t sail away in your mind/Have you always been like this?/Conspiring with lightning?” Field, meanwhile, describes wishing that someone would read his margin notes so that they could catch a glimpse inside his mind. The song affords multiple meanings—you can sway to the sun-drenched rhythms or settle into the stuffy isolation of Field’s writing.

This double valence is felt most when Field reflects on the sad state of the world. On “Le Pain Quotidien,” he depicts an existence fragmented by online neuroses: “See a bunch of photos/Life is somewhere else.” Field’s writing manages to maintain its understated wit, even if the use of Auto-Tune functions more as on-the-nose cultural commentary than a melodic device. The EP’s most affecting critiques emerge more poetically, like on “The Lighthouse of Alexandria,” when Field almost casually mentions eroding coastlines and incendiary profit obsessions. 

As the lyrics oscillate from plain observations to thorny metaphors, the compositions morph from obvious to intricate. “The Lighthouse of Alexandria” begins with a Beethoven interpolation before transitioning into an upbeat, sparkly second act; the gentle keys and handclaps on “85” fade into a warm, ecstatic blend of guitars and bass. The most invigorating arrangement on On the way to Beatenberg arrives at the end, on “Symposium.” Cheery piano chords support Field as he croons about love, not as “a puzzle or a problem of logic” but as an intuitive, mysterious force. It’s a pleasant, straightforward thought. But when the hook arrives, the tone shifts. Field, for once, quiets his anxieties and finds solace in the sublime—he wants to love, to connect, to exist thoughtlessly alongside another, to write the most beautiful song he possibly can.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Beatenberg - On the way to Beatenberg EP Music Album Reviews Beatenberg - On the way to Beatenberg EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 08, 2022 Rating: 5


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