Beabadoobee Fights Tough Emotions With Sweet Tunes — and Wins — on ‘Beatopia’

Bea Kristi first caught the world’s attention releasing bedroom tunes that became viral hits, particularly her epochal 2019 blast of indie-rock hero worship “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus.” Her 2021 debut as Beabadoobee, Fake It Flowers, showed she could be and do many things, from a Hole-style angst merchant to a dream-pop charmer to a clever genre-splicer who could shift from folk to prog in one gesture and call that gesture “Emo Song.” Kristi used her gift for mutating old songs as a springboard to process her at times painful, always perplexing feelings: “I want you to know that I’m in love, but i don’t want you to feel comfortable,” she offered on one tune, at once admitting and celebrating her own vivid inbetweenness.

On her second album, Beatopia, she expands her sound and gets deeper into her feelings. The album’s title comes from an imaginary world she invented when she was a little kid, and fittingly the overall tone is a little more whimsical and drifty than Fake It Flowers, from the gorgeously translucent dream-pop wash “See You Soon” to the samba-tinged “The Perfect Pair” to the lavish slo-core smoothie “Pictures of Us.” The only real guitar bangers are “Talk,” which begins with shoegaze swirls and a baggy beat a la early Blur or the Happy Mondays and quickly becomes a power-pop dart, and the shyly roaring “Don’t Get the Deal.”

At times, it sounds like Kristi has simply moved her rock-historic references up a few years into the later Nineties, when some of the best indie-pop was getting sonically cleaner and more refined. When she wafts her pretty voice over a sheer, supple melody and some light electronic beats on “Sunny Day” and “Tinkerbell is Overrated,” it happily brings to mind artists like Ivy, Kahimi Karie, Black Box Recorder, and St. Etienne. All these innovations work and feel natural, and they serve as a nice backdrop for songs that stare down tough emotions while looking for clarity.

Some of the brightest highlights here are acoustic tunes like “Broken CD,” a reflection on unshakeable personal memory, or “Ripple,” about bracing yourself to work through hardship. On “Fairy Song” she offers a list of daily tasks that will keep her moving in the right direction: “drink water,” “speak to your brother,” etc. Here’s another one: Keep making records as good as this one. They’re a help to us all.