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The Love Language Of BETABOYS 

This Calgary synth-pop outfit will have you falling head over heels with their latest EP, Just Yesterday.

by Sebastian Buzzalino

Falling in love never really gets any easier. There’s an awkwardness in vulnerability (and a vulnerability in being awkward) when trying to first navigate who you are in relation to your love interest. 

The infinite potential of falling in love is what keeps BETABOYS coming back to the same well for inspiration. The Calgary quintet wear their influences on their upturned sleeves, all 80s nostalgia, posture, and pose. Awash in purples, pinks, and blues, with a healthy dose of rounded synth lines and upbeat rhythms that bop along in a world where you could still roam the streets with your friends until sunset, eat candy for dinner, and not have a care in the world, BETABOYS’ latest EP, Just Yesterday, lays it on thick and delicious, a saccharine collection of earworms made for grabbing a dancing partner and grooving into the night.

“We’re inspired by a lot of 80s-era bands and pop culture, in general,” says bassist and songwriter Scott Perrin. “For example, we all love John Hughes movies; the vibes and the aesthetics, the bands that have been on those soundtracks — that’s a good starting point for us.”

“It’s that coming-of-age style. It hits a totally different note from some of the other big genres in the 80s,” continues frontman and lyricist Brett Sandford. “It all comes from a feeling of the 80s, especially mid- to late-, where everything in America is fucked and people have to create this art that fights against it. It’s weirdly funny and inspiring.”

BETABOYS keep their sonic signature tight and narrow: the band knows what notes they want to hit and finely hone their craft in that direction. The package is fully formed from the outset; from their style to their songwriting, from their vapour- and synthwave-inspired album artwork to throwing a maximalist prom party for their album release (complete with dress code), it’s clear that the five members all pull in the same direction at the same time. Recent singles, like “Weekday Strangers” and “Newport Beach” are gauzy and glossy, romantic to the max, shimmering in the mirage of puppy love and swooping butterflies in your stomach.

“Scott brings me a song and sometimes things come together really fast,” says Sandford. “All of our stuff, with the exception of maybe ‘Enjoy the Silence,’ is pretty upbeat. When I hear it, my mind just careens to that brightly-coloured happy zone of falling in love, of what you have to do to get people to notice you.” 

Photo: Sebastian Buzzalino

He continues: “How weird is it being young and trying to find yourself and do all these things when you like someone? How fucking weird that part of the human condition is. It’s so strange, so awkward. When I was younger I didn’t really talk about it, but now, all those experiences can come to a head — the awkwardness of youth. And as we get older, it doesn’t really go away, it just permeates into something different,” Sanford says. “Whether you’re 18 or 40, falling in love isn’t easy.”

While falling in love with another person isn’t easy, it is easy to fall in love with BETABOYS’ latest EP. Just Yesterday is unabashed in its optimism and romance, unabashed in its love for the type of 80s aesthetics that dreamed of a better future. Sandford’s baritone vocals sit comfortably among sampled synths and tight drums, making it easy to let go for a moment and get swept up in the moment. It’s a nostalgia for the recent past, a past perhaps most of their audience never even experienced, but still manages to lord over their imagination, a longing for a simpler time. There’s a cutie across the room and you lock eyes: will tonight be the night it gets a bit easier?