Review Summary: One of 2020's best new artists brings us a blend of old school pop-rock and modern dream-pop that is all too easy to sink into.
beabadoobee, a Filipino-born British singer-songwriter, wears her inspirations on her sleeve: she’s part 90s grunge star, part 2000s indie-rocker, and part 2010s dream-popper. The idea that every facet of her music feels dated, if not slightly worn, weighs heavily on Fake It Flowers
– a full-length debut that is designed to entertain more than it is to enlighten. It’s so good at its former goal, however, that its transparent influences are forgivable. If you’re looking for something that is brimming with infectious melodies and that rocks harder than it has any right to, then Fake It Flowers
is your album, and beabadoobee is your answer to the question, “what does it take to actually feel good in 2020?”
beabadoobee is at her best when she dials up the aggression – instrumentally, at least, as her vocals rarely deviate from a smooth, silky serenade. The back half of ‘Sorry’ is almost gnarly, driven by electric riffs that aspire to that of Smashing Pumpkins circa Siamese Dream
. ‘Worth It’ brings more of an Alanis Morissette vibe, with a guitar-driven pop-rock atmosphere that thrives on its hook-laden chorus which seems to span the entire length of the song. ‘Care’ feels like a lost hit from The Cranberries’ heyday, sinking into lush acoustic passages only to burst through with buzzing electric guitars and bombastic melodies. ‘Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene’ is dizzying and borders on noise rock, closing out the record with a high dose of energy and bold creativity. The common thread woven throughout Fake It Flowers
’ fabric is this very “90s reborn” aesthetic, and beabadoobee pulls it off better than most artists of a similar ilk.
When the album lulls and settles, beabadoobee finds herself in modern dream-pop territory. ‘Back to Mars’ and ‘Further Away’ could be played alongside Hatchie’s Keepsake
or Ellis’ Born Again
without missing a beat, aloft in hazy reverb, resplendent guitars, and synthetic micro-flourishes. The album’s best low tempo moments come when beabadoobee accents her songs with trappings from outside the rock arena, such as the chime-like twinkles and wobbly synths on ‘Emo Song’ or the elegant strings that lift ‘Horen Sarrison’ into the clouds. Fake It Flowers
is able to achieve adequate balance between beabadoobee’s soft and loud formulas, making for a smooth and balanced listen which never spends too long observing one specific side of her multifaceted skillset; it’s always on the move.
Fake It Flowers
is a surprisingly enjoyable blast from the past. The fact that her sound is essentially a product of tossing the previous three decades into a blender shouldn’t deter you from what is ultimately a very satisfying redux. Fans of grunge, rock, and dream-pop should all be able to converge on beabadoobee as a point of common interest. Fake It Flowers
won’t blaze any new trails and beabadoobee is a far cry from a pioneer, but for a brief moment in the sun, her debut is both gratifying and immediate. There’s no reason not to bask in it.