Beth Orton: Kidsticks (ANTI-) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, November 29th, 2020  

Beth Orton



May 25, 2016 Issue # 57 - M83 Bookmark and Share

To those who've ignorantly discarded her as a one-season wonder on the back of 1996's (still excellent) Trailer Park, whisper it quietly: Beth Orton has been continuing to deliver work of significant quality over the past 20 years. 2006's Comfort of Strangers was an overlooked, subtle gem of a record and 2012's Sugaring Season was as intriguing, deep and richly layered as her previous work. And now Ortonwho this time uses Fuck Buttons' Andrew Hung as her creative musehas gone one better with a singularly remarkable album that sets a true benchmark for 2016.

To claim Hung as the sole catalyst behind the emotively-electronic pulse and throb of the record would be highly unfair (Orton has always uniquely blended the organic and the electronic), but there is no question that the slowly unfurling and unwrapping quality of the tracks here helps to pull the listener along into uncharted, evocative territories with so many sounds and ideas bursting forth. Opener "Snow" expands in many directions from a tumultuous multi-tracked set of voices, while white noise and distortion on "Petals" immediately swerve into antiseptic rhythms and synthesisers on "1973." This is one of the true strengths of Kidsticks: Orton has the intelligence and nous to change moods and sounds without ever compromising the flow, control, and coherence of the record. Best of all is the quite sublime "Moon," which skips expertly around a loping, searching bassline, with subtle chimes until the most perfectly-judged electronic beat kicks on to propel the song to sumptuous heights.

But in the second half of the record, the album twists round itself and chooses to reflect David Bowie's Low, frequently accentuating the backgrounds and the atmospherics of the record above simple song structures, including the lush instrumental "Corduroy Legs," the twinkling twilight conclusion to "Flesh and Blood," and the flickering title-track coda. It's a brave structural choice that pays off handsomelythe energy and emotion of the sound washes over the record and colors its every corner.

Kidsticks is a glorious accomplishment. And who would have thought it? Well, anyone who has actually followed Orton's continued excellence over the years, for one. But Kidsticks is more than good enough to bring the casuals back to the table. This is a record of class, grace, invention, and, above all, beautifully crafted songs. Experimental, unique, and brave; Beth Orton has just released her finest record. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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