The Beta Band

Hot Shots II

S. F. Weekly
July 2001

Was anyone really paying attention, when the Beatles took the world by storm, almost four decades ago? If so, then why does it always surprise us when a group comes along and actually carries on the legacy of truly exploring the spaces within a song, rather than simply mimicking what has already been done so many times before?

Four brash lads from Scotland calling themselves The Beta Band have been getting it all along, and have continued refining the noble tradition of sonic alchemy since 1997. Spinning the mythology of pop on its’ pointy little head, The Beta Band’s third long-player, titled Hot Shots II, combines the textural surrealism of early prog-rock, with neo-folk harmonies and a spaced-out, lo-fi trip-hop beat sensibility that will put some stroke back into your groove thang.

The eleven songs on Hot Shots II display a deft simplicity that trades arrogance for aloofness, as they simultaneously shout and sigh in the same solitary bliss that one discovers singing at the top of your voice, while trying not to disturb the folks in the other room. A quick sleight of hand finds them mixing up cheeky synth-pop with shuddering crescendos of guitar tremolo, and minimalist disco beats to cap it all off.

Imagine Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, if they had sounded like they were having fun while recording it, or any of Beck’s clever twists on modern-day pop, with a bit more sincerity and less irony. Irony, in fact, doesn’t rear it’s horny little head once in the Beta Band’s existential melting pot of acoustic funk. Every little nuance – whether the ping of a triangle, or a knock on a door, seems like the perfect sound to make at just the right moment, even though it always turns out to be what you least expect.

© J.Free / S.F. Weekly; 2001; 2022