The Bees - Octopus

Charlie Southwell 18/03/2007

Rating: 4/5

The Bees' Third album “Octopus” shows a modern band producing music with the lush melodies ala beach boys, songs written as well as The Beatles, and with the panache of Ray Davies, but with the hindsight of several decades have widened the approach and influences in this experimental pop album “Octopus” to that of reggae, and a certain nod towards Specials in “Stand”. In years to come this could be a classic album, although the current state of music is such that The Bees are largely unknown and unappreciated for their take on this genre.

A mish-mash of sixties hippy pyschadelia-pop that never fails to raise a summery vibe from the corners of your mouth. The Bees recorded the album in their basement on the Isle of Wight, and it sounds like it could have been out of Abbey Road, incidentally where their second album was recorded. The home grown recordings are incredibly subtle and full of influences you may not expect. Strands of polished folk music weaved perfectly with a regal jazz sensibility provides a majestic soundtrack for 40 minutes of your life.

Opening track and first single “Who Cares What The Question Is?” is a foot tapping, guitar sliding affair. Bringing back blues from the sixties and not caring. On first listen I felt it was a needless rip off and could have been right off of “Sergeant Peppers…”, but in context to the album it's a great opener and tackles the taste buds to set up this sonic treat which it has to be said is much tastier than the albums title. Octopus after all is pretty chewy. *shudders*

Highlights of the album include afore mentioned “Stand” where organs take the musical trip past an early 80s two tone era Britain. Whilst somewhere in a jazz bar. Nice. In the mid-west US, early beach boys with a more conformist backing band could have produced something like “Listening Man”. Whilst stand out track “Left Foot Stepdown” has a rhythmic intro that builds with a sine-bass that plods through the mix. With ska influenced keyboard twiddles filling the gaps between brass bursts through the chorus builds one of the best songs I have heard in a long time. On first listen it will have you dancing and trying out whatever feels like a left foot stepdown. Which is great! I have two left feet, and it seems to work alright for me.

Several listens thereafter you will still be finding little melodic intricacies you missed, in general this album is a grower. Which again is perfect, it will sit in your CD player until summer, where it will bloom in yellows greens and never reds. Red is so last year, as is grey. This band are all but bland and this album showcases that Sixties music, despite pre-judgements can be brought into the modern setting successfully.