Beths – Expert In A Dying Field ….Power Pop Friday

I learned about this band from Graham at Aphoristic Album Reviews. I think the subject of this song is brilliant. It’s the title song on the album Expert In A Dying Field. The album was released in September of 2022 and is their 3rd studio album to date. It peaked at #1 in New Zealand and #80 in Australia in 2022.

Beths

Through the years in power pop…the lyrics take a back seat to the music many times.  The Beths music excites me because they don’t produce empty songs…they have substantial lyrics to go along with their irresistible hooks.

The Beths are a band out of New Zealand, that was formed by Elizabeth Stokes in 2014. The songs are full of guitar hooks along with Stokes’s clever writing and voice… make them fun to listen to. They have some 90s indie sound with a little of the 60s thrown in at times.

The members include Elizabeth Stokes ( lead vocals, rhythm guitar ), Jonathan Pearce (lead guitar, backing vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass, backing vocals)
and Tristan Deck (Drums, backing vocals).

Here is a link to the entire album on youtube.

From Allmusic by Marcy Donelson on the album

After quickly building a fan base in New Zealand and Australia with their live shows, Auckland’s the Beths burst onto the broader indie scene with an infectious, hook-crammed debut, 2018’s Future Me Hates Me. As suggested by the album’s title, Elizabeth Stokes’ self-depreciating lyrics were part of its charm, and the follow-up, 2020’s Jump Rope Gazers, reflected an even more hapless outlook as it explored strained relationships caused by the band’s new life on the road. Without skipping a hook, third album Expert in a Dying Field delves still deeper into melancholy, with lyrics navigating a breakup as well as pandemic life. Churning fuzz and ringing lead guitar begin a downcast but nonetheless driving opening title track that asks, “How does it feel/To be an expert in a dying field?/How do you know/It’s over when you can’t let go?” The song’s chorus picks up multi-tracking, vocal countermelodies, group harmonies, and crashing cymbals by its final incarnation.

It could be said that much of the album continues in kind, with memorable melody after memorable guitar hook after air-drum-compelling fill on a series of songs that border on midtempo, but the way it plays out is something much more off-balance. The Beths lean on the accelerator three tracks in, on the polyrhythmic “Silence Is Golden,” for instance, a song whose punky, racing rhythms and guitar histrionics are matched by a rambling, lilting vocal that only stops to breathe before the chorus’s repeated “Silence is golden.” Nearing the halfway point of the track list, the two-minute “I Want to Listen” is a gentler, McCartney-esque ditty with more complex chords and shifting harmonic progressions than are typical for the onetime jazz majors. Later, the chanting “Best Left” (“Some things are best left to rot”), while still wistful in tone, plays to the arena crowds. The group have said that Expert in a Dying Field was made with live performance in mind, and on that point, it delivers, right up until the plaintive closing ballad, “2 a.m.,” which finds Stokes left alone in a flash of headlights (“There’s a song that never fails to make you cry”). The album also delivers on vulnerable, rock-solid songs, a juxtaposition the Beths continue to master.

Elizabeth Stokes: “I really do believe that love is learned over time. In the course of knowing a person you accumulate so much information: their favorite movies, how they take their tea, how to make them laugh, how that makes you feel. And when relationships between people change, or end, all that knowledge doesn’t just disappear. The phrase ‘Expert in a Dying Field’ had been floating around my head for a few years, I was glad to finally capture it when writing this tune.”

Elizabeth Stokes: “When I first started this band … I was looking back towards [what] I liked when I was younger, sweetly sung melodies and super depressing lyrics”

Expert In A Dying Field

Can we erase our history?Is it as easy as this?Plausible deniabilityI swear I’ve never heard of itAnd I can close the door on usBut the room still existsAnd I know you’re in it

Hours of phrases I’ve memorizedThousands of lines on the pageAll of my notes in a desolate pileI haven’t touched in an ageAnd I can burn the evidenceBut I can’t burn the painAnd I can’t forget it

How does it feel (how does it feel)To be an expert in a dying field?And how do you know (how do you know)It’s over when you can’t let go?You can’t let go, you can’t stop, you can’t rewindLove is learned over time‘Til you’re an expert in a dying field(How does it, how does it feel?)

The city is painted with memoryThe water will never run clearThe birds and the bees and the flowers and treesThey know that we’ve both been hereAnd I can flee the countryFor the worst of the yearBut I’ll come back to it

How does it feel (how does it feel)To be an expert in a dying field?And how do you know (how do you know)It’s over when you can’t let go?You can’t let go, you can’t stop, you can’t rewindLove is learned over time‘Till you’re an expert in a dying field

Can we erase our history?Is it as easy as this?Maybe in other realitiesThe road never took this twistAnd I can close the door on usBut the room still exists

How does it feel (how does it feel)How do you know (how do you know)Can’t stop, can’t rewindLove is learned over time‘Til you’re an expert in a dying field

Oh, an expert in a dying field

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

44 thoughts on “Beths – Expert In A Dying Field ….Power Pop Friday”

  1. This is a fantastic song, and the video is really a breath of fresh air – so homely and modest. This is a must for my collection. Such great quality in every respect. They are going onto big things if they keep that kind of thing going. I’m surprised it wasn’t that well received in Australia. I’m looking to hearing this a few more times today and showing it to my kids. Thank you Max!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No I get it Matt…that is why I said a little of the 60s thrown in at times”…. they were influenced a lot by 90s alt rock but there is some 60s also. They do have a good sound.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Now this is quite good! Pretty good song all around and great title, video (first thing came to my mind was old cameras and photography equipment and they showcase that nicely in the clip). Her voice reminds me a wee bit of Natalie Merchant which is never a bad thing. I agree with RSR, it sounds 90s-ish but that too isn’t a bad thing. From NZ, eh? What say you, Mr Obbverse?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is really good. I liked the older reel to reel tape machines.
      I can see that some with Merchant… I told Graham it was a very clever title…I loved the imagery of the words.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Bruce. This is one of the few if only songs I have heard in recent years where young adult artists uphold their previous generations. ‘There is great meaning in that’ and we shouldn’t lose it. Also, the homemade little journey in the video of the band members and the solderer handing them coffee and putting on LPs and with old handicrafts in the background and them him leaving to see the band from his view from the balcony. One for the ages this song.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes! I know what you are talking about. The cabinets that held the record player and radio…I know exactly now what you are talking about.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. An older brother of mine had a crystal radio set! Before we got our radiogram we had a wind up record player for 78s. My job at parties (as a kid) was to keep the record player wound up and to periodically change the needle when it wore out. It would probably be worth a packet these days.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Very nice Max. This is ranging far from the usual USA/UK musical bastions, thats for sure. Now, please, readers and viewers of Max’s blog today DON’T lump New Zealand in with Australia. Please. In the South Pacific NZ is the ‘Canada,’ ‘Straylia equates to the USA. NOT THE SAME!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Obbverse. I have to be honest… before blogging I knew next to nothing about New Zealand (that sounds so rude)…not that I didn’t want to…I just didn’t. Now I talk to 3 bloggers from there…Graham, Bruce, and you. I have to say…you three are three of the best commenters I have.
      The first bit of knowledge I learned about NZ (other than volcanoes)…No venom snakes! I knew it wasn’t Australia by just that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, it’s funny here, we have a big chip on our shoulders about the Big Brother Oz thing. Big sporting rivalries between the two countries. I spent about six years in Oz as a kid, then came here, became a citizen. Tried both, here feels -is- home.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Lisa, I rave about Scotland a bit as my daughter her husband and my bonny new grandson reside there and I really like it as a place. I’ve seen over there, and seen few places, been to a few, But I’ve been here in NZ for… forever. And here has, so far, proved hard to beat.

      Liked by 1 person

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