To many in the music industry, stepping outside of the popular limelight isn’t the best of ideas. For Ryan Beatty, it’s been his making.
At Majestic Journal, our “Fresh Sounds” feature aims to showcase not just the latest tracks from our favorite up-and-coming artists, but the paths taken to get there. In our latest feature, we focus on Ryan Beatty and his breakthrough debut album, “Boy in Jeans.”
23-year-old Ryan Beatty may not be a name you’re familiar with — but you will be, soon enough.
Gaining his first musical break with Disney, Beatty started covering tracks from Bruno Mars and Jessie J on YouTube at the age of 17. His pop rock ballad “Hey LA” (2012) was catchy, but easily forgotten in the wave of “Disney youth.”
The last 24 months, however, have seen the Californian come of age, having had his talent nurtured as an unofficial member of BROCKHAMPTON. Few would have predicted the change in sound and maturity of his debut LP “Boy in Jeans” (2018), packed with 14 tracks exploring themes of isolation, sexuality, stardom, and self-reflection.
We take a closer look at Beatty’s sound and prose, and explain why “Boy in Jeans” could be a worthy contender of being one of the best debut albums of 2018.
A nostalgic look at yesteryear, plus the mixing pot of teen emotions, is nothing new in pop music; Beatty’s approach and experiences, however, are unique.
“Camo”’s soundscape is immersive; a hypnotic metronome beat the background to Beatty’s falsetto. Touching on Beatty’s breakaway from the expectations and limelight of his early career in music, the track shifts to themes of newfound teen independence and self-ownership. Lyrics like “and now the only thing I’ve got are these memories - and a lot of time on my hands” allude to Beatty’s comedown from “overnight success” and hint at the wait for what’s next, and “Camo” shines as one of “Boy in Jeans”’s most personal and standout tracks.
“Crash” brings a distinct change in sound and narrative with a contemporary R&B vibe and electro-synthesizer humming behind Beatty’s slow jam. The video follows Beatty, lit by the dashboard in his car, “tripping” in the passenger seat — a metaphor for recklessness and loss of control that new love incites. With his controlled and effortless vocals, and a memorable end featuring a harp and piano concerto against a shirtless Beatty in a crucifix chain, “Crash” serves as a notable deviation from the predictable pop sound and visuals from Beatty’s past.
“Euro” adopts an extraterrestrial feel right from the start, with the video opening to a sea-soaked Beatty at night, set against an ambient triangle-xylophone combination.
The theme of alienation, and finding one’s rightful place, is a common thread throughout “Boy in Jeans,” with tracks “Bruise” and “Cupid” detailing Beatty’s high school experiences as he comes to terms with his homosexuality. “Euro” touches on similar subjects of unfamiliarity, with lines like “all my cash is in Euros; all my coins are Yen” conjuring images of dissonance and divergence from what may be expected of a young male.
“Boy in Jeans” is as unique and accomplished as any debut record of 2018, and a solid addition to any pop fan’s rotation.