On The Beths’ new album Expert In A Dying Field, Elizabeth Stokes’ songwriting positions her somewhere between being a novelist and a documentarian. The songs collected here are autobiographical, but they’re also character sketches of relationships – platonic, familial, romantic – and more importantly, their aftermaths. The shapes and ghosts left in absences. The question that hangs in the air: what do you do with how intimately versed you’ve become in a person, once they’re gone from your life?
The third LP from the New Zealand quartet houses 12 jewels of tight, guitar-heavy songs that worm their way into your head, an incandescent collision of power-pop and skuzz. With Expert, The Beths wanted to make an album meant to be experienced live, for both the listeners and themselves. They wanted it to be fun -- to hear, to play -- in spite of the prickling anxiety throughout the lyrics, the fear of change and struggle to cope.
Most of Expert was recorded at guitarist Jonathan Pearce’s studio on Karangahape Road in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand) -- and sometimes in the building's cavernous stairwell at 1am -- toward the end of 2021, until they were interrupted by a four-month national lockdown. They traded notes remotely for months, songwriting from afar and fleshing out the arrangements alone, the first time they’d written together in such a way. The following February, The Beths left the country for the first time in more than two years to tour across the US, and simultaneously finish mixing the album on the road. That latter half felt more collaborative, with everyone on-hand to trade notes in real time, until it all culminated in a chaotic three-day studio mad-dash in Los Angeles. There, Expert finally became the record they were hearing in their heads.