Branding her latest album with whimsical illustrations and an innocent title, beabadoobee invites listeners into the most personal season of life — her coming of age.
Beatrice Laus’ sophomore LP Beatopia comes after her 2020 debut, Fake It Flowers, a record rooted in stories of adolescence with abrasive, guitar-led sensibilities to match. Her debut’s songwriting bites with a sarcastic attitude and curated her audience to angst-filled teenagers.
Now 22, Laus refines the imagination of her childhood on her latest record, as she sings amid lush instrumentals instead of clashing bass. With this shift in focus, she expresses her emotions with more nuance and a sharpened sonic influence. Though varied in musical prowess at points, Beatopia still demonstrates growth for beabadoobee, capturing her independence as an artist in the digital age.
As the title derives from an imaginative world she created as an inspired child, it is fitting for the opening song to immerse listeners into this magical, far-out land. “Beatopia Cultsong” removes itself from the modern world, abandoning melodic structure for electronic whirls and stilted delivery. With this production, one can easily imagine the ambient, almost sinister environment on the cover: blue fairies, purple monsters and bears haunting the foreground.
“Is it me or recently time is moving slowly?” she repeats over buzzing guitar strings and humming basslines. This repetition, her continuous reflection on time and her withdrawn vocals encapsulate her position on life at the moment: At 22, she’s biding time before the fulfillment of her adulthood.
Discussions about her coming of age evolve on “Sunny Day,” an indie, early-2000s-reminiscent tune dedicated to the complications of love. She begins the pre-chorus with an offering, apologizing to her partner for refusing to leave the house without the comfort of warm weather. With the same naïve diffidence of people in their 20s, she criticizes herself for being human and for prioritizing her mental health over their relationship.
On “See You Soon,” perhaps the album’s most impressive feat, beabadoobee pines from the sidelines, wanting her affection to be all-consuming for her lover. For this dream to occur, though, she first “needs time to grow and to exist.” Allowing the instrumental to bounce with blissful vocals, listeners feel the pulse of her desire within the vivid state of Beatopia. Mended with poetic strength, her experience highlights the exhausting highs of love, and how it can be both appealing and deteriorating for young adults.
Her attention to human relationships subsists despite this need for space, extending past romantic boundaries. Through another standout, “Pictures of Us,” she expresses gratitude for a role model reminding her “God starts with a capital.” Vocalizing the same hesitation 20-somethings feel when encountering someone bigger — an adult who is so much wiser — beabadoobee responds in fear: “No, I don’t think I could do it.” Her voice is timid but familiar, an old friend extending their hand to calm the listener in a time of doubt.
“Lovesong,” on the other hand, struggles to capture the same comfort. While beabadoobee crafts cinematic images — lovers at train stations and meeting in autumn — she neglects the childhood innocence and emotion so fundamental to Beatopia. The production does not progress until the final chorus, as she trades glittering bass for meandering guitar and drums, which diminishes the dreamworld she shaped in other ballads.
Still, even with these missteps, Beatopia presents an outlandish thesis on the common narrative of battling adolescence. Her penultimate song on the record, “Tinkerbell Is Overrated,” encapsulates these feelings best: “I’m not a woman in my room/ I’m just a girl instead.”
In this dream world, beabadoobee’s honest and evocative songwriting cuts to the core of her experiences. Her production, vibrating and celestial, converts these realities into the idealized escapism of Beatopia. As the creator of this land, she welcomes her most fanatic listeners and harshest critics into this intimate space, granting them access to her most diaristic thoughts — an experience worth commending regardless of its faults.
beabadoobee, beneath the high-voltage bass and lo-fi production, faces the same struggles as the 2000s influences before her — but, unlike many of her predecessors, she finds solace in her truth.