Arthur Beatrice // Real Life
It’s an oddity of new music blogging that the bands we profess to love appear to cease to exist in our pages as soon as they get signed or release an album. From that point on it’s as if we metaphorically cast off the artist into the choppy waters of sophomore albums, tense label negotiations, and not being ‘new’, anymore.
I am naturally as guilty as anybody else, but while listening to Arthur Beatrice‘s new track, ‘Real Life’, it struck me that this is a position exactly as absurd as it sounds. Sure, the xx are no longer in need of our patronage to spread the good word, but mine below those unassailable echelons of the indie ecosystem and artists’ continued existence is far less assured than we might like to think.
It is almost as if we fetishise ‘newness’; anything past the first album is old news and can be filed in The Guardian’s music section and receive a cursory fifty words in the NME. Fine as The Guardian’s new music section is, miss out on that and suddenly your label is arching its eyebrow and wondering how to tell you most kindly that album number three just isn’t going to happen. The financial climate, y’know. Cuts. The Tories. Bloody Gideon Osborne – blame him.
Of course it is hardly as if smaller new music blogs wield the clout to single-handedly resurrect an ailing career, but what about twenty blogs? It can clearly help build momentum, which is why we should all voice our love for artists of a vintage finer than, say, fifty plays on Soundcloud and a fan base consisting of the band’s extended family. The thrill of discovery is real, for sure, but the thrill of longevity and progression? That’s got to count for just as much.
This brings me back to Arthur Beatrice on the verge of a backhanded compliment – but in this case it’s hardly that they could use a helping hand or that they’re a weak Vevo performance away from being dropped, it’s just that ‘Real Life’ is such a faultless indie/pop hybrid that it demands talking about, and their being signed and having already released an album are hardly good reasons for lapsing into silence.
In fact, the opposite is true in this case; their selling out of the ICA in London next week way ahead of new album Keeping The Peace being released in May seems proof of their place as a slow burning success story. In a typically understated and British way, they might be the most quietly respected and adored new face of nuanced, artistic British indie from the last few years; not a group that spray hubris from magazine covers, but instead inspire silent devotion and an unspoken understanding of their increasingly lofty position.
That being said, ‘Real Life’ seems destined to elicit devotion of a far more outspoken kind. It’s cloaked in all the smoke and introspection that made debut album Working Out so irresistible, but there’s also euphoria as Ella Girardot’s vocal balloons into a pining chorus cavernous enough to engulf Soundcloud, Radio 6 Music, Green Man Festival, Radio 1, Glastonbury… Maybe even colonise the top spot of the Shazam chart and cause Spotify to crash. And so it should. It’s the genetically perfect pop song; both subtle and strident, artful and immediate. And it’s new, of a sort. New enough, anyway.