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We Don’t Deserve The Spirit of the Beehive’s New Album

Photo+Courtesy+of+BcBits
Photo Courtesy of BcBits

Photo Courtesy of BcBits

Photo Courtesy of BcBits

Shannon Durazo, Web Staffer

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When I first heard about Hypnic Jerks, the unexpected new LP by indie punk group The Spirit of the Beehive, I was honestly a little worried. When I first listened to the Philadelphia rock band in 2017 on the critically acclaimed Pleasure Suck, it was out of love for their distorted basement-rock stylings mixed with experimental cuts and jumps. When I heard that the same band that had defaced every potential moment of listener gratification through pitch-warping, reverb, and distortionhad embodied a new psych-pop sound I had my doubts.  But, as the first distorted vocal of opening number “Nail I couldn’t bite” rang out, I was hooked. Even though the record reverts to pop-nuances at time, it still manages to seamlessly interweave a trademark grittiness, dare I say ugliness, that TSOTB have made all their own.

Riding of the wave of 2017’s wildly successful Pleasure Suck, and recorded and wrapped in a weeklong session often the holidays, Hypnic Jerks features a band buzzing with restless creativity. The songs overflow with ideas and eschew conventional structure, often containing several distinct sections rather than recurring hooks. The music explores new territory at each fork in the road, forging a linear path rather than retreading used ground.

Like Pleasure Suck, Hypnic Jerks puts urgency and ugliness at center-stage, wrapped in a dream-like assortment of soundbites that the group masterfully interweaves into the music. The opening number enters with a series of spiraling dialogues, before jumping into the warped statement “Sometimes you can-sometimes”.  TSOTB messages have never been crystal clear, but one thing is for sure on this new record that they are more content to kick-back and explore grooves rather than rely on shock-value to hone in listeners.

The band shifts mantras and genres so frequently these days, biting commercialism on one record and inviting easy-listening on the next.  Ambition is always the enemy, though, as chorus “Sometimes…you don’t even have to try…” on the opening number of “Hypnic Jerks”closely echoes that of “You don’t have to go to college…you don’t have to go to school” on 2017 single “Ricky (caught me tryin’)” While the band has mellowed out a bit in the past 12 months, they still harness a distinct cynicism that they express through song-splicing. Full of seemingly meaningful, if arbitrarily selected, phrases (like the near-end conversation sample: “can you take me back to where I was before?”; “Yes, sir, by the way where were you before?”; “just take me there”) Hypnic Jerks is a collage of feeling more than a focused message. The lyrics, like the music, blur together separate ideas with little context until an image or idea forms. For The Spirit of the Beehive, the priority is mood and the meaning is always felt more than it is spoken. The Spirit of the Beehive is a puzzle, an enigma, but when listened to closely you can slowly put the pieces together.

SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
Photo Courtesy of Jump Philly

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We Don’t Deserve The Spirit of the Beehive’s New Album