The Beths. Photo by Frances Carter

I can’t stop listening to The Beths and can’t wait to smile and sing the night away while also hitting the merch table hard when they play at Portland House of Music on Saturday night, especially since they’ll likely be playing a bunch of new songs.

The indie-pop band from Auckland, New Zealand, is singer and rhythm guitarist Elizabeth Stokes, lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce, bassist Benjamin Sinclair and drummer Tristan Deck.

The Beths formed in 2014 and released their debut EP, “Warm Blood,” in 2018, followed later that year by the full-length “Future Me Hates Me.” “Jump Rope Gazers” and a live album came out in 2020.

Earlier this year, The Beths dropped the scorching stand-alone single “A Real Thing,” and on Sept. 16, they’ll release the album “Expert In A Dying Field” on Carpark Records.

“Expert In A Dying Field” is the forthcoming album by New Zealand’s The Beths. Image courtesy of Carpark Records

The first three singles are “Knees Deep,” “Silence is Golden” and the title track. Just don’t ask me to pick a favorite of those three, let alone the rest of the album.

Stokes said she isn’t able to pick a favorite track either, that it changes from day to day.


“But I was pretty chuffed when I wrote the title track. It felt like a special song,” she said, adding that she’s also partial to “Your Side.”

“If I’m in the right mood, it can get me a bit teary. Crying at your own song, is there anything more disgusting?”

“Knees Deep” might be particularly relatable to Mainers who, like me, can’t rip the Band-Aid off when it comes to venturing into the chilly Atlantic.

“Wading in up to the ankles/The cold speaks straight to my bones/Whole body and soul hesitation/I am a coward turned to stone,” she sings in the song, which slaps with pop rock precision.

Stokes loves to go swimming but said it takes a solid 10 minutes to ease herself into the cold water, similar to how she lives her life in general and something she’d like to change. “I wish I was the kind of person who was brave and decisive instead of cautious and scared,” she said.

She appears, however, to be conquering some of her fears in a video that the band released for the song a few days ago, during which all four of them go bungee jumping off a bridge.


Another track I’m acutely drawn to on the new album is “When You Know You Know,” with Stokes’ shimmering vocals rising and falling as she deconstructs the sweet and sour parts of a relationship. With its superb hook, it’s one I sure hope to hear live on Saturday.

Stokes said they wrote it toward the end of 2020 during a time when she was having trouble writing songs and instead turned to listening to and learning other artists’ work.

“I think I had been learning ‘Egyptian Tanker’ by Bressa Creeting Cake, so I was in a strumming mood, and I think the chorus, melody and chords kind of emerged spontaneously,” she explained. “It felt like exploring the way being in a relationship involves giving a piece of yourself away to someone, a risky move, but when it’s the right person it all feels worth it. ”

The album closes out with “2am.” The slow-moving track shines with a tender, reflective sense of longing. “Do you feel it? Feel it like you did back then?” asks Stokes. There’s also a lushness to it as drums crash every which way and keys swirl about with a sense of urgency.

“Expert In A Dying Field” was recorded last year in Pearce’s Auckland studio, as well as the building’s stairwell in the wee hours of the night. A four-month country-wide pandemic lockdown put things on hold for a bit, but the band was able to finish the process remotely this year.


The Beths continue a run of North American shows through Sept. 1, then will travel to Australia for several performances before heading back home to New Zealand for a bunch more.

Stokes told me the biggest difference between audiences in America versus back home is that people in the U.S. aren’t afraid to show and share their unbridled, infectious enthusiasm for music.

“It’s so lovely, and we really feel it when we are here,” she said. But the band also loves their Kiwi fans. “We love our NZ slightly awkward, reserved enthusiasm too though, don’t get me wrong. Both are great flavors to enjoy!”

The tour picks back up in Oregon in February, and The Beths will be in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Feb. 28.

But first, we have Saturday’s show. I can’t wait, and I’ll be entirely unbridled.

The Beths with Rosie Tucker
8 p.m. Saturday. Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland, $20 in advance, $25 day of show, 18-plus.

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