Spirit of the Beehive


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Spirit of the Beehive (2014), 5/10
Pleasure Suck (2017), 6/10
Hypnic Jerks (2018), 5.5/10
Entertainment Death (2021), 5.5/10
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Philadelphia's Spirit of the Beehive, the brainchild of vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Zack Schwartz, debuted like a late shoegaze-pop experience on Spirit of the Beehive (2014), notably in White Weekend, synth-enhanced shoegaze that mutates into metal. The catchy and less anemic Tulsa OK fares better. Drugged litanies like Roll Over and Don't sometimes evoke the "Madchester" sound of the 1990s.

The six-song EP You Are Arrived (2015) displays a bit more energy in Sfk and Who do you Belong to.

Pleasure Suck (2017) abandoned shoegaze for more dissonant arrangements, sandwiched between two improbable noisy, disjointed lullabies, Pleasure Suck I and Pleasure Suck II. A highly creative (if not cohesive) album, it peaks with the Syd Barrett-ian suave eccentricity of Pianos Heavy Instrument and the totally deranged Snow on the Moon and Mono Light Crash. The mildly poppy Ricky is a mixed bag.

Hypnic Jerks (2018) is an album of ideas not fully developed, like the celestial "trip" of It's Gonna Find You that is not what it could be. On the plus side, each and every song is unpredictable, destabilized by odd detours, starting with the dream-pop of Nail I Couldn't Bite with quite a bit of (casual) instrumental jamming, through the deranged frenzy of Hypnic Jerks, the aquatic, disintegrating litany Poly Swim, the surrealistic bombast of Can I Receive the Contact? and the country-pop lullaby Monumental Shame. Again, there are moments when Schwartz sounds like a poppier Syd Barrett (notably in Mantra Is Repeated). However, there are too many trivial fragile melodies over trivial weak instrumental parts.

The sound effects become a major attraction on Entertainment Death (2021), a much more electronic album, possibly because of the contribution of multi-instrumentalist Corey Wichlin. The drummer is replaced by a drum-machine. Opener Entertainment borders on musique concrete and glitchy dance music. The wildest experiment, the seven-minute I Suck the Devil's Cock, is de facto an anarchic collage. There's Nothing You Can't Do mutates from sweet synth-pop lullaby into industrial punk-rock as the lead vocals switch from bassist Rivka Ravede to Zack Schwartz. Unfortunately most of the other songs aim for cohesiveness, thereby landing in much abused indie-pop stereotypes, and Give Up Your Life and Wake Up (In Rotation) are prime examples. Soon the electronic effects drift in the background and what remains is the simple melodies, whispered in male-female vocal harmonies with little or no passion over mechanical rhythms and synth arrangements. The busy noise-scape of It Might Take Some Time is the example of what is needed to leave behind the stereotypes.

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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