The title of BEA1991’s new album, Brand New Adult, is ostensibly a Kurt Vonnegut reference, but the name carries a sense of rebirth and growth that mirrors the musician’s own career trajectory. Formerly known as just BEA, the Dutch artist rebranded in 2015 as the extended BEA1991 shortly before releasing songs of 2k11, a compilation of unreleased tracks written in the titular year. Her first collection of songs written under her new alias, BEA1991 describes Brand New Adult as occupying the space between “yacht-pop” and “bedroom R&B,” with a sound that feels more akin to the clean perfection of the spiralled interior of a seashell than Sperry Top-Siders and boating knots.
The emotional atmosphere varies throughout the album. Placid piano and reverb-drenched saxophone on “The Dream” feel almost meditative, while “Modern Comforts” pulses with a darker energy, all driving bass and repetitive lyrics that speak of oil spills and dying crops. Dev Hynes plays the bass for the matter-of-fact “Did You Feel Me Slip Away?” Despite the shifts in tone, Brand New Adult feels cohesive. BEA1991 delivers smooth but multifaceted electronica, her complex arrangements of synthetic instruments rolling together like a handful of glass marbles dropped into water.