Album Review: Butterbeer – Obliviate

Formed in Shunde, Foshan in 2014, Butterbeer are a quintessential indie duo consisting of Jovi from Atta Girl and vocalist Rye from Chestnut Bakery.

Quintessential is by no means meant in a derogatory sense, on the contrary their most recent record, Obliviate, which was released to bandcamp on September 29th, is a beautiful, atmospheric effort in the grand old style of bedroom rock.

While they may be attempting to imitate the more somber side of Belle and Sebastien, they sound more like Warren Hildebrand’s Foxes in Fiction.

On tracks like Retrospective, the guitars are bright and sunny, despite being played down-tempo. This mellow enactment of joyfulness seems to recall a splitting sun on a winter’s day. Something piercingly warm that irradiates through the cold air.

There’s is a style gone beyond shoegazing, beyond the dynamics of rock music, in the same vein as Cocteau Twins. Female vocalist Rye’s tone is dreamy and sometimes indecipherable enough, while Jovi oozes instrumentals in such a way as to point towards that kind of atmospheric immensity.

And it is funny, then, that the band are based in Shenzhen, South China, where the weather is so warm. I would be tempted to associate them with a chill autumnal gust of wind. Circumstances like their place of residence seem to turn the ideas behind their music on its head.

Listening to Another Sunny Day Makes Me Forget You, may or may not be a reference to the aforementioned Belle and Sebastien, but there are certainly remnants of that Scottish band’s influence. Horns are blasted over the vocals at various points, not quite in the thrilling style of Belle and Sebastien, though working along the same timbre.

Butterbeer deviate between Chinese and English lyrics, again creating a funny geographic cacophony of ideas and notions, associated with the different tones and sounds of the two languages. 

Butterbeer are certainly a band made in the mould of a quintessential independent act. They have talent and passion, but are just lacking some necessary ingredients, such as production values. Let us see what the future holds for them.

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