Album Review: Beabadoobee – ‘Fake It Flowers’
Posted: by The Editor
If you know only one thing about Bea Kristi, the British-Filipino musician who performs under the name Beabadoobee, it’s that she became famous because of TikTok. Before her debut full length, Fake It Flowers was even announced, she had already amassed millions of monthly listeners on Spotify. Though the music that got her noticed was mostly twee ukulele songs, her sound has grown, and those on Flowers are works of full-fledged rock prowess.
It remains in vogue to co-opt the aesthetic and sound of the ’90s and early 2000s within our broader culture. It’s not always cynical or calculated, but it happens so often that it’s only natural for one to develop skepticism of newly forming bands becoming Pavement soundalikes. I implore listeners to push past that hesitation when listening to Beabadoobee. Despite being an artist with a song called “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus” (Malkmus fronted Pavement), her music does a perfect job of balancing its late ’90s influences.
Flowers opens with “Care,” an insanely catchy tune that harnesses the sugary pop styling of acts like Hoku and melds it with the punchy rock hooks of Michelle Branch. It’s an uninitiated listener’s first taste of Beabadoobee, and a great first impression. Between “Care” and the track that follows, “Worth It,” it becomes easy to see a world where mainstream pop music parts to create a lane for guitar music again. It happened for Avril Lavigne, an artist who feels like a looming presence over Flowers, so why not for Beabadoobee?
It’s inspiring to see a very popular musician potentially acting as a gateway for indie rock. As it stands, aside from Beabadoobee, I see no other simple route for music inspired by Pavement and Liz Phair to find its way to those growing up on TikTok. Tracks like “Charlie Brown” and “Sorry” fill the album’s midsection with flashes of guitar so blurry that it borders on shoegaze. Its popularity feels like an incredible anomaly.
Despite containing a wide range of influence and a bevy of hooks, the moments that fall flat here are those that feel like steps back. When every song has such an elaborate arrangement and excellent musicianship, the simpler moments feel less like reprieves and more like holdovers from the beginning of Kristi’s career. Deep in the tracklist sits “How Was Your Day?” a plucky cut of saccharine sentiments about a lost relationship. It’s not that the song is inherently bad, but that it feels like a straggler among such ambitious company. The stripped-down “Back To Mars” suffers the same fate to a lesser extent. It sounds expansive and sleeker.
However, Flowers saves the revelation of just how big it can sound for the end. “Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene” finds Kristi singing with a breathy tone all about her imagined future with a stranger, and what she’d name their kids. Like any good setlist, the record closes by running off the rails. Every facet of the song turned up to ten. This is a record that’s primed to be star-making, and you can just tell how much fun Beabadoobee is having in those last few seconds and the feeling is palpable. You can claim you don’t feel it, I just won’t believe you.
Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great / Phenomenal
Eric Bennett | @seething_coast
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