Beta Band - Heroes To Zeros

Surly Scots or misunderstood musical magpies? Or both? The Beta Band have had a love / hate relationship with the media since day one. Although their Three EP's compilation was well received, the follow up self titled debut was a mitigating disaster derided by the Beta Band themselves (although on reflection it's not really that bad). This was followed up by the more cohesive Hots Shots 2.  The bands reluctance for self promotion has harmed them in the long run as they've got so much to offer. At the moment the band are just above cult status, but still on the cusp of impending success. "Heroes To Zeros", the bands third album took eighteen months to record with help from Nigel Godrich on the mixing desk.

The intention was to create a melting pop of a live sound matched to a technological template. As it is "Heroes To Zeros" is a natural progression from "Hot Shots 2" which sees the Beta band broaden their horizons to a satisfying degree. The primitive percussion and electronic bleeps and tweaks of "Space" add to an immediate live feel which is in keeping with the bands new direction. Steve Mason's vocal is cool and confident and the instrumentation mixes manic guitar breaks, pop harmonies worth of the Beach Boys and an unusual but strangely endearing middle eight which enables the song to have a trippy anthemic edge while allowing the band to let rip in the studio. Structurally "Wonderful" recalls the fuzzy logic of Super Furry Animals. With a mellow 60s whimsy this also has a touch of The Stone Roses with charming, romantic lyrics. Undemanding and a tad repetitive this is easy to like, but not very memorable. "Out-Side" mixes seagulls, barking dogs, loud drums and heavy guitars in an ambitious undertaking which thankfully works in a psychedelic way. The sentiments ring true as he trills "I love your way". "Pure For" has Mason's whispering vocal proclaiming "I'm so glad you've found me". Maybe the truculent frontman has fallen in love. Minimal yet majestic, laying down the groove laden beats on a grand finale to a terrific album.

If you've never taken a shine to The Beta Band give them a chance as "Heroes To Zeros" could be their breakthrough album.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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