Album review: beabadoobee – Beatopia

London singer-songwriter beabadoobee bursts out of the grunge box and lets her imagination run wild on album two…

Album review: beabadoobee – Beatopia
Emma Wilkes

On her 2020 debut Fake It Flowers, beabadoobee delivered a sweetened take on grunge that had all the sentimentality and cinematic feeling of a coming-of-age soundtrack. It broke through the gloominess of the long nights and monotonous days of Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo, enchanting mainstream and alternative listeners alike. Fast-forward to the scorching summer of 2022, and the London singer-songwriter’s turn at the difficult second album is a starkly different affair, with more diversity, more complexity and less care paid to the genres it falls within. This is what beabadoobee coming into her own sounds like, and it’s certainly intriguing.

One of the defining features of Beatopia is that it’s much less immediate than Fake It Flowers – there aren’t so many catchy, love-at-first-listen bops, but the ones that are there, namely the fizzy pop-rock jam 10:36 and the scuzzy euphoria of Talk, are a lot of fun. The more left field moments here are handled with just as much assurance and burst with creativity – Sunny Day feels like a modern, more guitar-orientated spin on '90s pop that sounds brilliant with the beabadoobee treatment, while the sunny bossa nova of the perfect pair is just as successful with an irresistible melody and splashes of string trills.

Acoustic guitar is more commonplace on Beatopia than electric, and although a couple more upbeat songs here wouldn’t go amiss, there’s plenty of endearing balladry here. The delicate Lovesong offers a lovely sense of intimacy, while Ripples takes a more elegant approach with its soft acoustic chords bolstered by violins.

In the wrong hands, an album like Beatopia that’s less reliant on catchy hooks could drag, but it never feels too dense or depressing, even if it does demand a few listens in order to be properly digested. The sheer range of sounds attempted here is impressive in itself, and beabadoobee could go down any of these avenues that she’s opened up for herself that she pleases.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: The 1975, Phoebe Bridgers, mxmtoon

Beatopia is out now via Dirty Hit

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