Bea Kristi, the Phillipines born, London based singer-songwriter has spent the last couple of years building up an online base of dedicated fans, thanks to her slew of bedroom-pop orientated slew of EP’s. Following from the likes of Clairo, Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail, Kristi has helped in the revival of the guitar ballad for a new generation. The chorus filled guitars and dreamy melodies of 2019’s Loveworm showed an emerging songwriter that played into the intimate side of a song, creating emotion through vibrant soundscapes and affection filled lyrics. On her debut album Fake It Flowers Kristi’s songwriting is as potent as ever, whilst expanding her sound out to incorporate a more grunge fuelled drive.
The bubblegum pop sound that Kristi has attributed herself to is still present on this album, “Dye It Red” with its driving groove and Kristi’s ever potent lyrics of self worth “And maybe it’s time to change my ways, But that doesn’t include you”. But the feel of this album is that of blending nostalgia with the present. The early 2000’s pop punk sounds of Avril Lavigne can be heard throughout opener “Care” through its punchy guitars and slacker like groove, whilst still infusing the signature chorus filled indie guitar leads. And on “Charlie Brown” the cinematic guitar hits build perfectly to the all out rager chorus lines of “Throw it away” that have all the elements of a Blink-182 Enema Of The State era hit. This expansions of Kristi’s sound is a natural progression for the grunge superfan, who previously stated “I want to live in the 90’s“. Coming out in its harshest form on “Sorry” as the fuzzed up guitars crash in on the chorus, backed by a Nirvana style riff. A short but potent burst of pure raw emotion.
Kristi also explores new textures of her more dreamy and ethereal side on “Back To Mars” and “Emo Song”. The first of which does come to a conclusion rather quickly, leaving you wondering how much more of this sound Kristi could have incorporated if she’d just given it that extra push. But the latter does present some of Kristi’s most nostalgia filled soundscaping to date through its gliding melodies and twinkling synthesisers. Tapping into that 90’s inspired throwback sound that could be found all over fellows contemporary Soccer Mommy’s debut album Clean.
This album is beabadoobee in and out. Not just in the sense of her being the one that created it, but rather laying down every aspect of herself into this album. Her inspirations are clear within the sound but where the honesty of this album really comes through is in the storytelling. One of the saddest sounding songs on the album, “Emo Song” also has one of the most personal stories on the album as Kristi tells the story of how being mistreated in her childhood let to her developing trust issues later in life. “You call me up, and lie again, Like all the men I used to trust, Nobody knows when I was young, I lost myself in cosmic dust”. There’s even reference to self harm on “Charlie Brown” as Kristi explains how a tattoo of Snoopy helped stop her from harming herself. “Back on old habits, That no one knows about, Too bad that Charlie Brown, Has inked you up to slow you down”. It’s this level of intimacy and emotional outpour that helps establish Kristi’s earnestness, creating a truly relatable and authentic songwriter.
Where this album looses its footing however is towards the latter half of the tracklist, almost as if Kristi has used all her impact to on the opening of the album and runs a bit dry of new ideas. “How Was Your Day?” is the second longest song on the album and it really feels like it. At 4:20 it’s not the longest song in the world but after chugging through a multitude of verses, it can become a bit overbearing and dragging after a while. The lo-fi recording of it also feels like a throwback to some of Kristi’s earliest releases, but this late on in the album slows down the pacing and the flow and just feels almost like an unnecessary gimmick. And for all the bravado and show tune-esque emotion that is thrown into “Horen Sarrison” it still seems to spend a bit too much time floating about on a violin sweep or instrumental breakout without offering any real direction for the song. There’s some fantastic use of melody shifting within the track, but too often it leans back on this as a way of prolonging the song out further. The frantic nature of Kristi’s sound returns on closer “Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene” but the wild flailing guitars and rolling melodies feel a bit too raw and unpolished to finish off an album that has been all about impact and packing a punch.
An album that showcases what beabadoobe is all about, and why you should know her name. That’s not to say it isn’t without its flaws, but it stands as a very solid starting position, ready for beabadoobee to race out into the world and show it what she’s made of.