beabadoobee’s 2020 ‘Fake It Flowers’ was one of last year’s most-cherished debuts, the moment where the West London songwriter seemed to eclipse her influences and nail down an identity of her own. Endearing and open, her lyrics could move from adolescent flippancy to heart-wrenching honesty in the same couplet, while the production leaned on a late 90s palette rich in atmosphere and nostalgia.
Unable to tour, it seems that bea returned to her sketch pad once more. ‘Our Extended Play’ was recorded following the release of her debut album, with help on production from The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel. Much has been made of the link up, and what Healy-badoobee could end up sounding like – in the end, it feels very much like a Bea led project, with her elder label mates on hand for advice, and odd technical addition.
A lean four tracker, ‘Our Extended Play’ finds time for glacial, reverb soaked guitar laments and crunching Shirley Manson esque rockers alike. ‘Last Day On Earth’ has a baggy sway, like Lush re-tooled for a 2k21 perspective. Whispered lyricism that unites an apocalyptic opening couplet with a gloriously catchy, perfectly cute chorus, it seems to act as beabadoobee in microcosm.
‘Cologne’ meanwhile offers something a little scratchier, and more visceral, racing to its raucous conclusion. The glacial, angelic ‘Animal Noises’ could be plucked from a later Mazzy Star record, its heady atmosphere locating the links between West London and the West Coast of America.
Racing to its conclusion, the new EP ends with ‘He Gets Me So High’, a song that taps into the rush of love, and the thrill of infatuation. Sugar sweet and innocent, reference points could range from Blur – whose own ‘She’s So High’ this might easily answer – to The 1975’s own work, with the distorted backing vocals recalling the band’s own ‘Give Yourself A Try’.
Yet that’s not to suggest that Bea is ever out-shined on her own work. She’s the central figure, and ‘Our Extended Play’ is defined on her terms. A transitional work that finds the songwriter operating with a subtle sense of evolution, it’s the sound of a supremely gifted young artist finding space to stop, and ask: what not…?
Words: Robin Murray
- - -
- - -