Somewhere in the intersection of Bikini Kill and Rilo Kiley sits Adelaide-based Bec Stevens. Armed with razor sharp urgency and a soaring voice, her introspection-fueled music is both beautiful and devastating all at once. It’s this clash of aesthetic and emotional resonance that makes Why Don’t You Just so striking. What makes it more so is that her debut album, 2016’s More Scared Than Me, was mostly her and her guitar. It wasn’t any less compelling, but the new added textures to the songs gives her music added dimensions.
Take the opening cut “10 Minute Drive” and its gentle build. It would find itself perfectly at home on a Rilo Kiley record, but when the tempo swells to a crescendo of punk-fused guitars it leans a little more towards this great manic urgency. “Time It Takes” quickly becomes a favorite as it channels the same sonic atmosphere that made bands like Rainer Maria a recognized name. The aching riffs and slow building melodies come crashing together in jilted couplets and melancholia; a beautiful song of anger and sadness.
“Time it Takes” is also the perfect example of how her music as changed since adopting a full band lineup. The fuzzed-out guitars and calculated percussions just make words like “You’re to blame for the time it took me to say I’m not okay” even more biting. With that you can tell how personal the record is, Stevens does not hold back on heartache, vitriol and reflection.
The spirited “Stiches” takes musical cues from post-rock’s most soaring purveyors. But when Stevens’ vocals kick in, you know the song is distinctively hers. In “Girl”, she strips back all the layers and returns to the simplicity of her and her guitar. It is a quick reminder that the core of it all is the most compelling and rewarding aspect of her music.
As the closing song reflects about relationships, the refrain echoes “please don’t fuck this up”. It’s as honest as anyone can get without sounding contrived. And it’s something you take away after listening to Why Don’t You Just. Through the 6 songs, there isn’t a wasted moment at all. No filler, nothing unnecessary, every second worth your time. How rewarding is that?