What exactly is a jump rope gazer? According to The Beths’ vocalist Liz Stokes, it’s the distance between two people, looking at each other from each end of a jump rope. It’s this idea that The Beths new, second album, starts from.
The songs on ‘Jump Rope Gazers’ suggest that the band have swapped a little of their raw energy for a more polished sound (courtesy of guitarist Jonathan Pearce’s production skills). That captivating simplistic energy that made their 2018 debut album ‘Future Me Hates Me’ so popular is still there, just channelled into different, and impassioned, performances.
Lyrically ambivalent, with themes of emotional uncertainty, distance, self-doubt, homesickness and anxiety bubbling under the surface, ‘Jump Rope Gazers’ still has a frothy feel, but it’s more melancholic.
I’m Not Getting Excited kicks the album off on a propulsive, upbeat note (with a brilliant guitar riff), though ambiguity seeps in through the lyrics early on. The Beths’ brand of power-pop is addictive, but when the energetic songs hit pause, and more contemplative numbers, like the title track, and the truly lovely, delicate You Are a Beam of Light appear, it’s clear their songwriting has developed since their head-turning debut.
‘Jump Rope Gazers’ is not a great leap forward into the unknown from The Beths, more a nuanced, gradual step towards it. The next may very well need to take that leap.