Beth Orton

Words by Dr Rob

Test Pressing, Review, Dr Rob, Kidsticks, Anti-, Heavenly, Beth Orton, Andrew Hung, Fuck Buttons

I never think of Beth Orton as being as old as me. If someone mentions her name I always visualise the picture of her in a pink gingham shirt, beaten jeans and worn out Converse on the cover of “Trailer Park”, her flashing a real smile at Terry Callier, shining in a gold lame dress at the Shepherd s Bush Empire. I hear her talking about “900 Miles”, John Martyn and her mother`s passing. I hear her wondering how long she herself has left. She probably wasn`t even thirty. Then she was emerging as a singer / songwriter, shedding a previous “electronic existence”, where she`d been a muse to William Orbit, a co-conspirator of the Two Loneswordsmen and the Chemical Brothers, going as barmy as everyone else to their “Block Rocking Beats” at the Heavenly Social.

Beth`s new album, “Kidsticks”, finds an artist reflecting on ageing, “A phonebook filling up with dead friends”, whilst revisiting the music of their youth. Electronica has flourished, dominated even, in her six-stringed absence. Why not demonstrate how her past pertains to the musical now? Vocals are chopped and looped on “Snow” a la “Chemical collaboration” “Where Do I Begin”, then layered in Panda Bear harmony, “Petals” is Anne Briggs meets London Grammar, Folk in a modern bass setting, “1973”, the album`s most Pop moment, stomps about Glam and theatrical, in the manner of Goldfrapp, Bolan gone truly electric, but the thing I hear most on “Kidsticks” is a synthesised Rock, that nods to `70s Kosmische, borrows its rhythms, its process, courtesy of production by Fuck Buttons` Andrew Hung, without neglecting the smart art of the song. Very much like John Grant. Without the expletives. The music in a way a distraction. A tough front for the lyrics, the wounded hiding behind the gang. “Corduroy Legs” however is out in the open, its guard way down. Spoken word surrounded by gentle piano and birdsong, like a kind of “ambient” Gainsbourg / Vannier, a soft, oft remembered embrace, its focus now blurred, its colours yellowed by time.

“Kidsticks” will be released this Friday on L.A.`s ANTI-Records. You can pre-order a copy at Rough Trade, and you can also catch Beth live at the following gigs and festivals:

May 27th & 28th / Brighton Festival

May 30th / Rough Trade In-Store

July 24th / Deershed Festival

August 6th / Caught By The River Thames Festival

Postscript / Beth announced full UK tour dates yesterday:

  • 24 Sep / Norwich, Waterfront
  • 25 Sep / Cambridge, Junction
  • 27 Sep / Gateshead, Sage 2
  • 28 Sep / Birmingham, O2 Institute 2
  • 29 Sep / Bristol, Anson Rooms
  • 01 Oct / Oxford, O2 Academy 1
  • 02 Oct / Glasgow, Saint Lukes
  • 03 Oct / Leeds, Beckett Students’ Union
  • 04 Oct / Manchester, Cathedral
  • 06 Oct / London, O2 Forum Kentish Town
Steve Cobby
Penelope Antena


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