The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers

By Ryan G

Turning on this album for the second time made me realize how much energy I had from this week. Earlier this week I had myself all but convinced I was coming down with a case of COVID, and I was doing the “is this allergies? is this all in my head?” game in my mind. Why the second time? The first time I listened to this album, I was sitting outside in the sun at my favorite qaurantine coffee shop patio, feeling that pre-caffeine malaise and a bit more self-conscious – both inhibiting my physical expression of musical enjoyment.

“I’m Not Getting Excited” and “Dying to Believe” are a one-two punch for the NZ powerpop group, with driving “dum-dum-DUM, dum-dum-DUM” beat that made me lose myself in the music for a few minutes.

I really appreciate how the record as a whole carries a wholesome, hopeful vibe. I mean, how can they give it a whimsical name like “Jump Rope Gazers” and not take that route? To me, jump rope makes me think of childhood – the playground, friends, and this thing called “Jump Rope For Heart” we did in elementary school gym class – it was a fundraiser. The music can be seen as both a necessary counterpoint to the context of both the lyrics and the time period in which it was released, and as ironic, depending on your mood. If I was in a more pensive mood, I might interpret some the cheery melodies as sarcastic, but I’m not sure that’s the right route. The nice thing about music is that you can use it however you want – and it doesn’t always match the goal of the songwriter – that is if the songwriter had a distinct goal for the listener at all. There are clear moments that aren’t meant to be ironic at all – such as the ending of the song “Don’t Go Away.”

A lyric I really like from this album happens in the chorus of “Out of Sight,” a summer-drive worthy track; “I keep a flame burning inside, if you need to bum a light.” This is a creative way of expressing loyalty to someone – a friend, a romantic partner, a family member. In spite of any angst you might feel about a relationship, there is value in keeping an inner fire burning so you can pass the light to someone else that needs it.

I’d recommend The Beths to fans of Best Coast, Sleater-Kinney, and Snarls.

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