Song You Need To Know: beabadoobee, ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus’
It’s official: Gen Z stans the Nineties just as much as millennials do. Eighteen-year-old London musician Bea Kristi, who performs under beabadoobee, released her new single “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus” this week, and the song’s devotion to the alt-rock prophet goes beyond a name-check. “Sitting at home, crying to Pavement/I wish I was Stephen Malkmus,” Kristi bemoans over distorted guitar fuzz – a sure sign that someone’s been listening to a lot of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
Growing up as the lone Filipino student in an all-girls Catholic school in London, Kristi has already had her fair share of identity crises. “It was really hard accepting myself,” she told the Fader earlier this year, going on to describe her music and the music of her peers like Omar Apollo and Clairo, who she’s opening for on tour this fall, as “like a way of counseling.” On “Stephen Malkmus,” she mentions her Ramona Flowers-esque blue hair six times across the song’s four minutes, and addresses her isolation with a tentative optimism: “I’m from outer space/And I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to it.” Through Pavement’s hazy ennui, Kristi finds a way to escape her own circumstances.
In her short career, Kristi’s three EPs as beabadoobee have frequently been lumped into the catch-all label of “bedroom pop,” implying a DIY sensibility with minimal electronic production and Billie Eilish mumblecore vocals. Songs like “Stephen Malkmus” lean closer to therapeutic alt-rock. During the bridge, Kristi suddenly switches to an accusatory second person: “‘Cause your photos suck, your brand is shit/You’re up your butt/You never really ask me how I am, ask me how I am,” she sings, using very 2019 language to describe age-old feelings of betrayal and miscommunication. The message rings loud and clear: if you want to know what Bea Kristi’s really all about, it’s right there in the title.
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