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Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student

arts music review

COLUMN: ‘Expert In A Dying Field’: Happy and sad at the same time

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When I first heard The Beths, I thought they were just another creative indie rock band. However, their latest album “Expert In A Dying Field” marks them as some of the best lyricists in modern indie rock to date. 

The album starts off strong with the title track, and they don’t bury the lead. The band lets us know the central theme for the album: trying to re-contextualize the events of a love after it’s gone. It’s extremely apparent in the chorus with their lyrics “love is learned over time / ‘til you’re an expert in a dying field.” The song is gut-wrenching if you listen close enough, but it’s sad in a fun way. 

“Knees Deep” shows off lead singer Elizabeth Stokes’ heavy New Zealand accent in the best way possible. I found myself paying very close attention to the rest of the songs to see if it popped out again. While “Knees Deep” is a great song, it is immediately overshadowed by “Silence is Golden,” which was almost instantly the best song on the album.  

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The chaotic guitar seems to emphasize the lyrics that much more. There is an almost complete absence of silence in the song until the very end where Stokes sings the mantra-like chorus a capella: “Silence is golden, is golden, it’s golden.” 

I can’t think of a melancholy love song better than “Your Side.” It opens hard with “If this is love, then why’d you have to leave?” While the tale of having to leave the one you love due to immeasurable distance is as old as dust, “Your Side” refreshes the narrative. I know exactly what it feels like to be in this situation because of the poignant storytelling in this song. The chorus hits home with “don’t cry, I'm on the next flight / to be by your side.” 

“I Want To Listen” is short but sweet. It’s genuine and cute, spending enough time on the thought and promptly moving on. “Head In The Clouds” sounds weirdly ‘80s, but I can’t put my finger on why. It’s yet another sob story dressed up in upbeat clothes without feeling redundant. It’s a fun way to capture a love that is, as the lyrics say: “vicious with a rosy tint.” 

I could write a whole essay on “Best Left.” I won’t spend all my energy finding the words to say how much I love it, but the pseudo-chorus of “some things are best left to rot” resonates with me in a way I can’t describe. The Beths are amazing at finding ways to structure their songs to showcase a story instead of a tune, and “Best Left” is the quintessential song for this band. 

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The last four songs — “Change In The Weather,” “When You Know You Know,” “A Passing Rain” and “I Told You That I Was Afraid” — blend together in a positive way. I can’t tell if they’re happy or sad songs just because they feel a bit busy, but the heart of the album is still there.  

“2am” is the best album closer I’ve heard in a while. It paints a bittersweet picture of falling in love while missing the way it once was. It wraps up any loose ends with “Though it hurts / I still love you the same.” 

“Expert In A Dying Field” isn’t for everyone. If you’re a hopeless romantic who needs an album to go with an apple crumble, this is the one for you. 

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