I don’t claim to have eclectic tastes, but I’ve been finding myself loving albums that are usually outside of my musical comfort zone lately. Well, maybe I’m embracing whole new styles and sounds, because this debut album from Beatrix Players is a gentle, uniquely beautiful affair that I can’t stop playing. “Magnified” is a brilliant piece of art that will grow on you every time you hear it.
Beatrix Players is an all-female trio hailing from the UK and Spain. The band consists of Amanda Alvarez (cello), Jess Kennedy (piano, backing vocals) and Amy Birks (lead and backing vocals). These ladies are influenced by all sorts of sources, from prog to classical to pop music. The music is almost exclusively performed through piano, violin, and cello; with some double bass and drums that are honestly faded into the background on purpose. The album is rather neoclassical and chamber in overall sound: Indeed, the band even considers themselves a “dark, classical trio”. So, if you are looking for a prog band with which to compare them, Iamthemorning is your best bet.
Right off the bat, Jess’ keys here are fantastic, reminding me (again) a little of Gleb from iamthemorning. They, along with the other instruments, form volumes and pillars of rising climaxes and flowing streams of melody. That means we get delicate piano melodies, but also roaring and writhing passages that foam and foment to emotional highs. The keys truly are a torrent at times. Amanda’s cello is also equally impressive, featuring complex compositions, as well as more baseline support that forms an atmosphere upon which the other instruments can shine in their turn. I found myself really appreciating the violins and bass, as well; as they are played with passion and class.
The vocals are very important to this album. Everything is composed to revolve around the complex harmonies present throughout the album. Amy’s vocals are beautifully performed and passionately presented without fail. The way she phrases her lyrics really feels inspired to me, as the vocal lines are expressive and put you in a state in which you can understand the lyrics better. Backing vocals also lay down accents that really elevate the songs to new levels, while also feeling playful at the same time.
“Magnified” is a refresher: a palette cleanser, if you will. It takes the overly technical stuff we are used to hearing, and turns it on its head to craft songs of beauty, emotion, and this sense of urgency. It portrays music in this adventurous, livid manner. Indeed, there is a certain amount of Romance in this music, and I do mean that in the literary and artistic sense. The album is literally gushing with stories, feelings, and ideals. Therefore, the imagery and tones in this album are darkly fantastical at times, but also intensely personal in other moments.
This is an album that explores inner worlds and transformation. It also at times contrasts blunt earthiness with divine loveliness in this fragile sort of way. What I mean is that the lyrics are often stressed or longing for something severely human, but the music flows on with incessantly ethereal beauty. It truly is like the beauty of the green earth meeting the pale blue of the heavens above us.
My favorite songs are definitely “Lady of the Lake” for its fantastical themes and rising melodies (not to mention the great video), “Never Again” for its personal lyrics, “Not for the First Time” for its slightly crass nature (I get this song stuck in my head all the time now), “Mole Hill” for its gorgeous piano, “What Do You Say” for its surreal qualities, “Obey Me” for its addictive chorus, and “Roses” for the stillness and sweeping beauty it contains. As you can see, this album does not mince words or hang on just one major track. This album is full and complete.
Overall, this debut album from Beatrix Players is one of wonder, beauty, and femininity. It’s honestly something that our musical circles need more of, just to keep us from being so jaded all the damned time. With each listen, you will find yourself drawn deeper into the worlds and passions these ladies have created, and I’m quite excited to see where they go from here. “Magnified” releases on March 31, 2017.