Broken Social Scene
Arts & Crafts
With the band, their promotion team and their record label all stating openly that Bee Hives isn’t the official follow-up to last year’s indie belle You Forgot it in People but a collection of b-sides, it’s easy to get the impression it’s not quality work. True, there’s not nearly as much sonic diversity on here as the band is known for, but previously absent levels of cohesion step up to fill the void. This is all the more surprising considering the three-year recording timeframe of these songs.
The album is built primarily of instrumentals like the clockwork-keyboards-turned-sublimated-ambiance “weddings” and the sweaty palms, frozen breath mid-winter optimism of “hHallmark.” Songs like these are heavily steeped in droning sound experimentations and stand a better chance of appealing to fans of BSS’s parent bands (Do Make Think Say, Stars, etc.) than they will to the traditional indie rock circles.
Of the vocal tracks, “backyards” and “lover’s spit” are particularly good. On the former, Metric’s Emily Haines’s sweet, coy pleas to “be courageous” are supported by a more restrained chaotic pulse similar to Yo La Tengo if Georgia, Ira and James were cloned three times over. The latter is an exquisite, aching live version of the You Forgot It track for British radio. At times, the music folds in on itself until it comes to a dead stop, breaking drone and standard pop structures alike. No, Bee Hives isn’t the type of album that on its own merits would make it into the pages of Rolling Stone or Spin, but it’s still a worthy follow-up to an excellent indie crossover album, even if it actually isn’t one.
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