On their debut album, the UK duo nudges classic British bedroom indie toward a fuller, richer sound, while singer Nancy Andersen discovers the potential of her understated voice.
Babeheaven first made their name with dreamy bedroom indie pop; their early songs were like teenage confessions whispered into their pillows. After the double whammy of their Suspended Animation mixtape and Circles EP last year, vocalist Nancy Andersen and producer-instrumentalist Jamie Travis are stepping into their grown-up selves, bidding the band’s adolescence goodbye with a gentle kiss on the forehead and readying themselves for a new chapter. On Home for Now they show a more evolved sound, still interior in its focus, but far more self-assured.
They’ve included a few of their older songs, nodding to the crowd favorites that have brought them this far. “Friday Sky” is the most notable of these, with reverberant guitar chords that instantly evoke memories of a very specific brand of British bedroom indie—bubblegum, hopeful, head in the clouds. (Travis is the son of Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis; british bedroom indie is, in a sense, in the duo’s blood.) The wistful “November” strikes a balance between Andersen’s tentative vocals and a forceful drum pattern; “Jalisco” melds a kicked-back trip-hop beat with layered, echoing vocals that keep it feeling airy.
In their new songs, Babeheaven continue to play with genre, rolling it around in their hands and molding it to fit their own strain of dream pop. “Human Nature” opens on a bassy throb that signals the group’s trip-hop influences, expanding on what they started with “Jalisco”; the wobbly guitars on “Cassette Beat” sound as though they’ve been run through a tape recorder several times over, an example of Travis’ increasingly adventurous studio techniques. “Craziest Thing” is the most out-and-out indie song on the album, but touchingly so. The peppy twang of echoing guitar strings is imbued with a naive hope, in stark contrast to Andersen’s anxious lyrics (“I lie in bed, try not to think/But my head’s on the ceiling”). Sometimes mournful, sometimes pleading, Babeheaven favor a primarily minor-key palette to give voice to vulnerability in a way that’s endearing yet empowering.
Throughout Home for Now, Andersen’s voice flows with understated confidence and quiet power. She has spoken of her discomfort on stage; when she finally took singing lessons, just before the UK went into lockdown, her teacher advised her to remember to breathe. Home for Now sounds like Andersen allowing herself one long exhale and settling into her talents as a vocalist. On “In My Arms,” she indulges in subtle R&B trills and pushes so that the chorus hits with a greater intensity. The close harmonies of the all-too-brief interlude “6 Times Round” buoy the woozy drum beat. On the closing “Through the Night,” Andersen takes things at exactly her own pace, singing just off-beat enough to pull the rest of the instrumentation in line with her own rhythm, her rich voice cushioned by soft layers of synths.
Home for Now isn’t necessarily groundbreaking; there are plenty of bands working with similar fusions of indie, pop, and electronic music, but the album shows them clearly moving forward in their abilities and ambitions. What’s most exciting is hearing Andersen discovering her potential as a singer. If she was unsure of herself before, Home for Now sounds like her proof to herself that she’s doing exactly what she needs to do.