Free The Bees





Back in 2002 and then called simply "The Bees", the Isle of Wight-based duo of Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher released their debut album, Sunshine Hit Me. Melding all sorts of influences, the album was praised by critics when it was first released in the UK. It went on to be nominated for the esteemed Mercury Music Prize, encouraged the duo to recruit a full band and sent that band on a worldwide touring spree. After taking a break, changing their name to A Band Of Bees (probably for legal reasons) and completely regrouping, the outfit created an even more impressive undertaking than their debut. Originally released in the UK last year, Free The Bees is not new to the truly die-hard fan, but the good folks at Astralwerks were nice enough to release it here in the US this summer. Blending everything you ever loved about the '60s and early '70s, Free The Bees is, for lack of a better word, F-ing Ninja! It's almost as if the band made a conscious decision to make each song completely different from the next, with each tune drawing inspiration from a different facet of the rock & roll and R&B spectrum from the golden age of popular music. Album opener "These Are The Ghosts" is straight out of the psychedelic '60s. I half expected Austin Powers to make a cameo the first time I heard it. "No Atmosphere", with it's hammond organ and prate drinking song-sounding vibe, sounds like it could have been pulled off of the The Doors' Waiting For The Sun album. The song even culminates in an orgasmic musical freak out of epic proportions a la "The End". "Horseman" is a straight up rock & roll track that teeters back and forth between a snarl of gravely-sung verses and Byrds-esque, harmony filled choruses. My personal favorite on the album is "Chicken Payback". This song absolutely rules. It's a crowd participation rocker where the band shouts out different animals like, "Chicken!", "Monkey!", "Piggy!". The lead singer then runs each animal through a series of lyrical exercises similar to that thing you do with someone's name - "Matt Matt bo bat banana nana fo fat...etc." Picture your mom and dad sitting around their black and white TV watching American Bandstand so they can learn the newest dance craze. In my mind, each animal represents a different dance and the whole thing takes place in a TV studio in 1960. Other elements are brought to the table as well. The Curtis Mayfield-esque instrumental jam "The Russian" has everything except Mr. Superfly's falsetto vocals over the top. "I Love You" and the "The Start" are slower, almost Motown-sounding soulful slow jams. "Go Karts" sounds like A Band Of Bees pulled a page out of Sir George Martin and Sir Paul McCartney's old studio log. It's clear that the three weeks the band spent recording at the legendary Abbey Road studios had an impact on the sound of this record and I, for one, couldn't imagine a better place from which to draw inspiration. If you like the classic rock of the '60s, but are looking for a band that can pull it off with a surprisingly modern feel, Free The Bees is the album for you.

A Band Of Bees
Astralwerks

Posted:
Free The Bees