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Hi-res TIFF album art:
Photo by: Mason Fairey
Playing a home show still feels special for The Beths, who have orbited in the fertile music scene of Auckland’s Karangahape Road since they were teenagers.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth Stokes, lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce and bassist Benjamin Sinclair began playing shows in 2015, quickly winning over local audiences with a low-key approach that disguises a drive for excellence.
After building a loyal following through live performances and their 2016 EP Warm Blood, The Beths signed to Carpark Records and released debut album Future Me Hates Me in 2018. That album, full of fast riffs, catchy-as-hell hooks and self-deprecating lyrics, catapulted the band straight into a lengthy international tour that saw them support legends like The Pixies and Death Cab For Cutie as well as headlining increasingly large shows of their own. Drummer Tristan Deck, who had played with Pearce on other projects, came on board in 2019 during this wave of touring.
Jump Rope Gazers, released in July 2020, was a slower, yearning follow-up that still fizzes and sparks with pop-punk sensibilities, and was immediately seized on by both fans and music critics as a bright spot during a dark year.
It was named Album of the Year at New Zealand’s national Aotearoa Music Awards in 2020, as well as securing the band awards for Best Group and Best Alternative Artist for the second year running, following the success of Future Me Hates Me at the 2019 awards.
Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 is the band’s first live recording and showcases the infectious energy the band brings to every performance. The accompanying film makes the band’s deep bond clearer than ever, capturing the in-jokes they share with audiences during on-stage banter, and foregrounding their mutual preoccupations with the game of cricket and New Zealand’s native birds.
Stokes is responsible for The Beths’ nuanced lyrics, which reflect the various hues of friendships, relationships and trying to fight against your own worst tendencies. From there, the band workshops each song in Pearce’s Karangahape Road studio, swapping and manipulating parts and building the four-part harmonies that are a distinguishing feature of their sound.
After a southern hemisphere summer spent playing music festivals around New Zealand, new tunes are in the works as the band crafts its third album, which promises to be upbeat and positive: a direct response to a difficult 2020.