Fronted by their main songwriter, Elizabeth Stokes, New Zealand indie rock group the Beths combine energized guitar riffs, melodic hooks, and harmonized backing vocals in their impulsive, distinctly self-depreciating music. Having already won fans as a live act, the band released their first album, Future Me Hates Me, in 2018. The Beths’ 2021 live album Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 featured earworms from the debut and follow-up Jump Rope Gazers. Their third long-player, 2022′s anxious Expert in a Dying Field, was completed in a Los Angeles studio during tour.
Elizabeth Stokes (vocals, guitar) went to high school with Jonathan Pearce (guitar), and they later met Benjamin Sinclair (bass) and Ivan Luketina-Johnston (drums) while all four were studying jazz at the University of Auckland. The Beths materialized when the friends were playing together and began revisiting the punk-pop of their youth. They liked the results and made their recording debut in 2016 with the Pearce-produced Warm Blood EP. The Beths quickly built a reputation across Australia and New Zealand for their lively shows. Carpark Records took note and reissued Warm Blood to an international audience in 2018, the same year they released the Beths’ full-length debut, Future Me Hates Me. Maintaining the grungy edge and infectiousness of their earliest songs, it was also produced by Pearce.
The band soon won over indie titans such as Death Cab for Cutie, the Breeders, and Pixies, all of whom created opening slots for the Beths on tours following the debut. Meanwhile, Tristan Deck replaced Luketina-Johnston as the group’s drummer. Following 18 months on the road, they sequestered themselves to write and record their second album. Without ceding any catchiness, the Pearce-produced Jump Rope Gazers followed on Carpark in 2020. Highlights from both of their first two LPs were featured on the 13-track live album Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 the following year. They were already working on songs for their third studio LP when New Zealand began a four-month lockdown to combat COVID-19 in the later half of 2021. The group re-emerged the following February for a U.S. tour that included a three-day mixing session in Los Angeles to complete songs tracked mostly at Pearce’s studio in Auckland, with finishing touches captured on the road. The resulting anxious, 12-song Expert in a Dying Field saw release in September 2022. ~ Marcy Donelson