An open-hearted, hand-held walk through the ‘shit-show’ that has been this year. One giant metaphorical party invite. A hug, and a reassurance. A quiet nudge into that dark place in your head flashing a warning light that somethings not quite right. But it’s alright, everyone is the same, and we are all missing the simple joys of normality. Beans on Toast’s new album, The Unforeseeable Future has it all covered.
This album was recorded at home and solo by Beans’ (aka Jay McAllister). A pile of new material and lockdown releases by the singer earlier in the year. This collection of folky, pick and go guitar melodies and deeply constructed lyrical care make this album straight from the heart and a real issue dealer. Each track stands alone as it deals with a separate issue or thought about this year’s pandemic. Saying the things that no one on TV can say. Beans delves down into the nitty-gritty thought paths that everyone has whispered about (probably to themselves in the mirror) in their isolation this year.
The first track on the album, ‘Strange Days’, is a poignant and touching account of 16th March 2020. The time around the first lock down in England. The stress around panic buying food. The media buzz that drove people to hoard toilet roll. The arms get goosebumps as he mentions the scaremongering of the government surrounding the whole thing. When he utters “I’ve been trained to buy things all my life”, it takes those of us that lived through those first few weeks in England 2020 right back to the fear and uncertainty that was rife around the country, and indeed the world. Commenting on how we coped the only way we knew how, as highly trained capitalists. What else are we supposed to do in that situation but get drunk and buy 100 quid’s worth of baked beans and loo roll? It is easy to see ‘Strange Days’ becoming a cult corona classic in years to come.
Following on from ‘Strange Days’ Beans rolls sweetly into ‘Human Contact’. A track entitled with the words that everyone longs for as animal creatures, and that we have all been denied much of this year. It is both sad and reassuring. Beans seems to be inviting everyone listening to the song to a big party once all of this is over. Like the father figure of the party scene, giving everyone a big hug and high five. We will all be together again soon. “Hangin’ from the rafters and not taking anything for granted”. It sounds soppy, but who doesn’t want a cuddle after watching yet another pixelated update from Bojo?
Beans touches on the events and places we took for granted pre-pandemic. He focuses on how they have altered in the present. Theme parks such as ‘Chessington World of Adventures’ have been made into failing covid-19 test sites, like “a zombie apocalypse”. In ‘Glastonbury Weekend’, Beans comments on the way we have tried to continue a semblance of normality. Moving all our social events; from family quizzes to work meetings, onto Zoom calls. Musicians are streaming music from their living rooms to our laptops, which is all great in the moment. But then you realize at some point, that you are all alone, and that it is all so far removed from the intense joy of things such as music festivals and family dinners, that it is frightening.
Anger resonates in Beans’ lyrics as he talks about the ‘Arseholes’. He sings to the listener with dulcet tones as he reacts to the information being drip fed down from the government, “I don’t believe my eyes, maybe they are broken”. A clear, relatable message that he can’t stand the lies anymore and everything to him reeks of conspiracy. He’s tired, like the rest of us, of feeling like “tomorrow’s on the verge of being cancelled”.
The Unforeseeable Future asks people to stay strong and as “we emerge into a world of rules and regulations”. It is important we stay patient and keep our spirit of generosity alive and our morals awake. Hopefully by this time next year we will all be jamming out together, listening to this album as a nostalgic memory of an infamous time, rather than as a candid zeitgeist.
The Unforeseeable Future is available from Tuesday 1st November 2020, alongside Knee Deep in Nostalgia. Read Jess’ review of Knee Deep In Nostalgia
Both albums are available to pre-order from Beans’ official website (below).
Article by Jess Milner www.instagram.com/blupijessauthor
Photo by Aaron Parsons