After over a decade releasing critically acclaimed records on Dischord, Beauty Pill emerges with an expansive and lushly produced LP on Butterscotch Records. Blending their uniquely angular brand of DC indie rock with dense layers of electronics, beats, strings, horns, noise, samples and more, Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are reflects the kind of artistic growth that takes years to emerge, and in this case those years also included band leader Chad Clark surviving a rare, life threatening heart disorder.
As a songwriter, Clark effortlessly blends the personal, the political, and the universal throughout, often through a surprising lens. The death of a beloved pet becomes an exegesis on mortality in “Dog With Rabbit In Mouth, Unharmed”. The clashing of cultures in our multicultural present is expressed in the form of a mash note in the lush production “Afrikaner Barista”. “Steven and Tiwonge” depicts an imagined escape scene of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a gay couple persecuted by the Malawi government. And “For Pretend” explores the perils of artists raising children.
Musically, the album is informed by the band’s array of interests that includes experimental electronic music, hip-hop, vintage post-punk, jazz, and artists that refuse categorization like Arto Lindsay (whose “The Prize” is covered by Beauty Pill on this album) and Brian Eno. As well, each player brings his/her own musical history to bear on these proceedings, whether it’s Clark, Goodrich and Ocampo’s days as members of seminal D.C. art-rockers Smart Went Crazy or Cook’s work collaborating with Jon Langford of The Mekons to Britpop icons Pulp.
“It’s definitely dense and charged full of sound,” Clark says of the new album. “There is no question it’s packed with ideas and details. That’s just the nature of this music.”
Clark also notes that he wants listeners to feel like they are “inside the songs,” a quality that was born out of the unusual environment that Beauty Pill chose to record the bulk of this album. For two weeks, they participated in “Immersive Ideal,” a special commissioned project for Artisphere, a Washington, DC arts center that allowed visitors to observe the band at work creating the album. People were able to watch the band through a pane of glass. The band’s recording process became an art exhibit unto itself (an idea now being explored by PJ Harvey, coincidentally an artist Clark admires greatly). It was an exercise in radical transparency; a way to pull back the curtain on a process that can seem mysterious to your average listener.
Beauty Pill Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are
Ann The Word
Steven And Tiwonge
Ain't A Jury In The World Gon Convict You Baby
Exit Without Saving
Dog With Rabbit In Mouth, Unharmed
Near Miss Stories
Ann The Word (Lungfish Cover)
Beauty Pill The Unsustainable Lifestyle
Lifeguard in Wintertime
The Mule on the Plane
The Western Prayer
Won't You Be Mine
Such Large Portions!
Nancy Medley, Girl Genius, Age 15
Quote Devout Unquote
Drive Down the Cost
I'm Just Gonna Close My Eyes for a Second