Bryanna Chapeskie photo
Beauts mixes '80s synth and atmospheric indie for rock in the vein of The National.
“There’s something fleeting about the idea of a dalliance,” says Beauts lyricist Jeff Lawton. Lawton and bandmate Darryl Smith cradle pints at a dimly-lit table at The Local. It is late February, when COVID-19 was but a murmur in the news cycle, and the Halifax indie band's debut LP was about to drop. “I looked it up one time and it’s like a short romantic fling,” adds Smith. “To me, that romantic fling is with a younger version of yourself.”
Then, things were different. But now, many might yearn for such a fling: to a time before social distancing and “plank the curve” became a refrain in our everyday lives. While Beauts' album-release party, scheduled for April 4th, was cancelled, the album takes on social and personal change in ways that make it perfect listening for these isolated days.
In Dalliance, Lawton’s lyrics question more than comfort, asking how we confront change and social disconnection. “All of us are a bit nostalgic for a younger version of ourselves,” says Smith, taking a sip of his beer, “while also cognizant of the fact that you can never go back.”
Like Interpol, The National or The War on Drugs, Beauts’ music explores the tension between the inward and outward, between moving forward and backwards in our lives and relationships with the people around us.
Tracks like "The City Loves Me" and "Drifters, All" are slow-burns, developing into deeply anti-anthemic anthems carried by airy choruses—the lyrics of which linger long after the bass-line and guitar fades.
"Good Measure"’s rhythmic exploration of the spaces between friends and family would make The National's Matt Beringer perk up his ears, laying bare images of social anxiety and confronting harsh truths. "Shut In", a song about snowstorm-enforced isolation, has become a daily reality for half the world, minus the snowstorms.
“I’m most happy about the songs we’re about to put out, more than anything we’ve done,” said Lawton, “and I think it’s been a gradual growth.”
Beauts started out a little more punk, maturing over three EPs and gigs at Halifax Pop Explosion and Gridlock festival. “We decided we would pivot away from that, says Lawton, "towards stuff we’re more into, indie rock, '80s new wave.”
Both Lawton and Smith say that their music’s change reflected their aging out of their 20s. They re-evaluated their sound at the same time they moved into different stages of life: “We used to be a little bit more dangerous and that part of our lives is fleeting.”
Lawton’s songwriting is especially suited to this era in our lives. Change is here: perhaps Beaut’s deeply listenable Dalliance is the perfect soundtrack for it.
Dalliance is out now on Vinyl and digitally through LHM records and streaming platforms.