The Bees – [Album]

Thursday, 28 June 2007

I have to say, I'm not a fan of the phenomenon known as "guy from band XXX is DJing at a club—pay money and come!" (Not officially known as that, but let's call it that for now). Wow, you mean the guy from Interpol is playing records at a club? Who really cares? That said, if the guys from The Bees were DJing somewhere near me, I would go down there in an Irish minute. These guys seem to know all the tricks from all the records of the past and they know how to set them up into little 4-minute blocks of good time psych pop for the new century. Granted, the tricks they are up to are generally pulled from the best music of the late 60s and 70s—but everyone knows these records tend to sound better than anything else (okay, from where I'm standing).

Let's take a look at—Octopus—the ridiculously fun third record from the Brits known as The Bees. Their previous record, Free the Bees, showed that they could knock out Trojan rocksteady, Rufus Thomas-style minimal funk, and early R&B pastiche with enough authority to make you do a double-take. On Octopus, they present an album that uses all of that, integrating melodies that are straight out of the Ringo Starr songbook, and adding in waves of punchy horns and bubbling Hammond organ. "Who Cares What the Question Is?" sounds like a steam engine-driven calliope overseen by a voice that is pure Ringo, with an added rocksteady beat, music hall piano, red hot slide guitar—it's nearly impossible to not like this song. Fast forward to "End of the Street," which is like a Bo Diddley shuffle abetted by a call and response technique that involves a variety sound effects. It's totally silly and yet it captures the juvenile fun of psych pop at a base level.

It's not always this fun—sometimes you're just waiting for the next reference to drop or simply enjoying the specifics of the sonics as they outweigh the song they're actually carrying. But The Bees are a rare breed of mix and match psych-pop post-modernists who aren't trying to expand the parameters of your brain, they just want to bring the party to the next level.

Octopus is out now on Astralwerks

Listen to some more songs from the album

Check out the irresistible video for "Who Cares What the Question Is?"

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