Caravan wastes no time leaving an impressive, attention-grabbing landmark. Nor should it. Frankie Beetlestone is assured of his style and accomplishes a six-track EP that showcases just why he should feel the need to brag about courageous and definitive songs. Howling like a cowboy, hammering some brass underneath him and as the percussion takes hold, it recedes just as quickly, like the hairline of a bank manager pressurised under piles of paper. Instead, a frenetic energy takes hold, and Beetlestone finds himself as comfortable as can be on opener Get Paid. Electronic notes here, fear of growth and getting old there, it all comes together and at a head for the mid-20s and our collective fear of what lies ahead. Caravan at least shares that explosive, never-certain fear.
Speedy vocals shoot through the midsection of Get Paid, a machine gun fire of wants, needs and desires in the humdrum lives of everyday hopelessness. Heavy layering and a speedy pace give listeners the chance to explore, time and time again, the potential of a break. A break from what? Fill in the blanks. Caravan keeps itself tightly wound around the desire to move along from whatever disaster is present, but also maintains a strong and open form to include listeners as much as it can. Cannonball pokes fun with a nice groove to it, chronic pains and pearly whites picked apart by an outsider with the latter, and possibly the former. At least those listening will have a blend of the two. If not the latter, then spine troubles and exhaustion will take hold. That is a fact of life.
Facts of life are keenly on the mind of Beetlestone and are always present in Caravan, a delicate collection of pop grooves and well-meaning electronic mixtures. Serotonin Master challenges the concepts of Get Paid, a reassuring number noting how fine it is to just exist. Not everything has to be in fourth gear, speeding down looking for some meaning, coasting and desperately searching for some meaning in the crescent light. Slow it down, speed up the lyrics, more and more, higher in pitch and faster in their rhythm. As reassuring as these tracks may be, some of the broader and positive pop momentum found feels awkward and ingenuine. Objective reminders to a TikTok-viewing audience who need upbeat pop tracks to remind them to take the bins out or look after their mental health.
Slowly Break My Heart jitters on through with no memorable moment but it holds itself to task. Popstar does not. Fashioning a flimsy spear to prod the popstar mentality despite pursuing that range makes for an interesting, interpersonal battle between a singer and his material. Clean or dirty, the inference in the cheap and expletive-ridden lyrics are the same. Fear of the spotlight and the ego that comes with expecting heads to turn when entering a room, yet actively pursuing it. Most artists wait a while before they deflect the attention with a wry grin that plants them right back where they pretend they hate to be. At least Pulp and LCD Soundsystem gave it a few years. But the latter stages of this EP are nothing too much to worry about, and while Caravan does not square itself up as a steady piece, it does give some well-needed insight into Beetlestone’s future. Stick around for If You Say So, a worthy end and a glimmer of bright, enthusiastic hope.