Track-by-Track: In ‘yoyo,’ A Beacon School Weaves Gauzy Dream Pop & Shiver-Inducing Shoegaze into a Seductive Sonic Haze

A Beacon School © Matthew Marino
A Beacon School © Matthew Marino
A Beacon School’s Patrick J. Smith goes track-by-track through his expansive and enveloping sophomore album ‘yoyo,’ a spellbinding dream pop adventure full of cathartic lyrics, seductive soundscapes, and a gorgeous, gauzy sonic haze.
Stream: “KITM” – A Beacon School




A gorgeous, gauzy sonic haze greets the ears on A Beacon School’s sophomore album.

At once heavy and light, dramatic and wondrous, yoyo is an entrancing alternative enchantment: A spellbinding dream pop adventure that whisks away the mind, body, and soul for 48 minutes of expansive, enveloping melodramatic musical immersion therapy. It’s a cathartic cavalcade of lush, painstakingly crafted sound and achingly intimate lyricism, performed with equal raw passion and careful finesse.

Prepare to be engulfed in the best way possible.

yoyo - A Beacon School
yoyo – A Beacon School
where do you go? weathered shell
keeping nothing for yourself
kick the grass that’s poking out
from the pavement, unannounced
made of glass, warm to the touch
still convinced it’s not enough
even in motion, you tell me to wait
you’re dragging your feet now
it’s getting too late
total devotion, never relayed
you’re dragging your feet now
it’s getting too late
– “KITM,” A Beacon School

Released October 13, 2023 via Grind Select, yoyo is an evergreen blanket of soul-stirring wonderment. Arriving five long years after A Beacon School’s 2018 debut album Cola, his sophomore record sees New York-based songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Patrick J. Smith leaning deeper into the dynamic depths of his own musical potential, taking liberally from the shoegaze, jangle-pop, ambient, and dream pop canons – all rather niche subsets of the umbrella “alternative” category – to create an identity that stands out and is sure to resonate with listeners near and far. As catchy as they are cathartic, yoyo‘s ten songs dive deep as Smith, both song writer and song sculptor, builds vast and vivid worlds from the ground up.

A Beacon School © 2023
A Beacon School © Dave Scholten



“On my first album Cola, I leaned out in a few different directions. The idea for this record was to see if I could stretch those ideas and concepts even further this time and still make a collection of songs that sound like a cohesive body of work,” Smith shares. “I’d like to think that it continues on where Cola left off, but better – at least that was the goal! I think it’s more varied stylistically and the production is fuller and richer.”

The title for the album came about completely by happenstance, and yet the name yoyo feels incredibly appropriate, given the visceral and vacillating nature of A Beacon School’s songwriting.

“I didn’t have a title for the album, and then one day my girlfriend was listening to a band called The Lo Yo Yo,” Smith recalls. “The word yo-yo really struck a chord with me. It fit perfectly with the lyrical themes of the album: These big feelings of back-and-forth and internal toiling can ultimately feel as inconsequential as playing with a toy.”

A Beacon School © Dave Scholten
A Beacon School © Dave Scholten



Highlights abound on the journey between opening track “Middle of Winter” to the conclusive “Mantra”; from the driving, jangling indie rock eruption “Potion” and the gauzy fever dream “KITM” to the 7½-minute electronic dance track “Jon” and the tender, wistful ballad “Adore,” yoyo is a feast for the ears – and that’s barely scrapping the surface of the record’s first half alone!

Further memorable moments on the album’s back half include the sun-kissed and glistening “Honeyed (Stay Forever)” – a kaleidoscopic sonic adventure full of surprise and intrigue – together with the hushed, hazy, and heated slow-burner “Down the Pyramid” and “Dot,” a hypnotic, hallucinogenic dance-pop indulgence that feels like the perfect cross between LCD Soundsystem, Passion Pit: In other words, it’s a trip.

“’Dot’ is a song about seeing patterns in your life emerge but feeling helpless to change them,” Smith explains. “The song oscillates between these moments of unfiltered wonder and inspiration, and the immediate skepticism that follows them.”

outside when narrow
the sun on the wire, lilting
to understand the invitation again
you felt it come true then
etched in a blinking
pattern you can’t forget
the color’s unknowing but the landing seems close
’cause it’s no different
light shifting
While all the rest fills in slowly
you find your head fizzing softly
And you swear this all feels new
But it’s no different




“A personal highlight is ‘Jon,’ which is the most purely “dance music” song I’ve ever made,” Smith says. “I didn’t want to make an “indie electronic” song, but something that a diehard fan of electronic music could enjoy. Based on the response of a few of my friends, I think I succeeded – but who knows, maybe they were just being nice!”




Meanwhile, Smith’s favorite lyrics are on album closer “Mantra,” “and funnily enough I just sang them haphazardly, intending for them to be placeholders until I thought of the ‘real’ lyrics,” he chuckles. “My friend Chase convinced me to keep them as-is. I ended up liking how blunt and universal they are.”

everything I don’t want to change is changing
everyone I don’t want to leave is leaving
everything I want to change is staying the same
everyone that I want to stay is leaving
can you name all the places you were racing?
can you tell just by the light which way you’re facing?
everything I want to change is staying the same
every time I get less sure of what we’re chasing
sometimes when gathered it starts to seep
sometimes a glimmer will let you breathe




A Beacon School © Matthew Marino
A Beacon School © Matthew Marino

Ultimately, yoyo stays true to A Beacon School’s promise of cathartic, all-consuming release.

Smith’s second full-length solo album is a therapeutic joyride for the ears and soul alike, with charming sparks of light in the form of radiant guitar licks (and other, less immediately definable musical curios) delighting the senses and often sending shivers down the spine.

“First and foremost, I hope everyone enjoys listening to the album!” Smith shares. “But beyond that I hope people form their own interpretations and meanings. I worked on this album for so long that each song evokes such a distinct feeling and image in my mind, so I hope listeners are able to make their own connections to the songs.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside A Beacon School’s yoyo with Atwood Magazine as Patrick J. Smith goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his project’s sophomore album!

— —

:: stream/purchase yoyo here ::
:: connect with A Beacon School here ::
Stream: ‘yoyo’ – A Beacon School



:: Inside yoyo ::

yoyo - A Beacon School

— —

Middle of Winter

I always knew this would be the opening song, but it was the last I finished. It feels to me representative of the album, not just stylistically but also lyrically. The narration bounces back and forth between a subjective, relativist viewpoint and something more objective and defined. That tension is kind of at the heart of every song on this album.

Potion

“Potion” was written in one sitting back in 2019 and has been a live staple since then. It’s about feeling a burst of excitement about something new but also the fear that accompanies it.

KITM

On “KITM,” ‘Keep It To Myself’ abbreviated, I’m very much talking to myself, voicing my frustrations with how long it takes me to do anything. I have all these plans and ideas and frustrations, but never act on them.  It’s kind of a pep talk to say ‘hurry up and do something!’

Jon

“Jon” is a song that took on many forms before its final iteration. Originally a straightforward guitar song, it ended up in its current state of electronic drone after years of tinkering with it. Although there aren’t any lyrics, to me the song has always evoked New York at night and that’s what we tried to convey with the accompanying visualizer.”

Adore

This is probably the softest and slowest song on the album, and I owe it’s inclusion 100% to my girlfriend. I wrote the instrumental when we first started seeing each other over four years ago and she encouraged me to keep working on it when I got stuck. She also encouraged me to keep the original working title, even though the final lyrics aren’t the most romantic things in the world. I will write a song ‘for’ someone if they like the music and insist I finish it, but I don’t quite have it in me to write a song ‘about’ someone just yet. Maybe one day!!

Alone

“Alone” is about the moment when you feel like your luck is finally turning. Nothing’s been going your way, so when you catch the faintest glimmer of hope you grab on to it as tight as you can.

Honeyed (Stay Forever)

This song was one of the most fun to make from a production standpoint! I used lots of techniques  for the first time: The main palm muted guitar part was made by playing each note in the chord individually so I could move certain notes around in a way that would otherwise be impossible.  I tracked an actual drummer and used a combination of real drums and sampled drums. I changed from 4/4 to 3/4 and back again. And at the end I used what I called the blue man group instrument (I think its actually called a tube drum or pipe drum?) but yeah overall, this was a fun one!!

Dot

“Dot” is a song about seeing patterns in your life emerge but feeling helpless to change them. The song oscillates between these moments of unfiltered wonder and inspiration, and the immediate skepticism that follows them.

Down the Pyramid

This song adds a nice bit of salt to an otherwise very sweet album. I think it’s the darkest song on here and I’m trying to get better in general about balancing out the pretty stuff with things that are a little uglier. This song is probably the least synth-heavy one on the record too. Even the huge swells in the middle were made with guitars and pedals!”

Mantra

“Mantra” states plainly everything I’ve been trying to get across on the rest of the album (and probably in every song I’ve ever written). The main phrase that repeats through the song was something I just blurted out for the demo and planned to eventually change. I was embarrassed at how blunt the words are, but thankfully (ABS bass player) Chase convinced me to keep them the way they are. We agreed there’s power in stating what you feel directly, in this case: “Everything I don’t want to change is changing, Everyone I don’t want to leave is leaving, Everything I want to change is staying the same, Everyone that I want to stay is leaving”

— —

:: stream/purchase yoyo here ::
:: connect with A Beacon School here ::

— — — —

yoyo - A Beacon School

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? © Matthew Marino

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