Beezewax - Who To Salute

Mike Mantin 15/08/2006

Rating: 3/5

In the Scandinavian music stakes, Norway is currently severely lacking Sweden, whose roster of lovely indie-pop bands (headed by The Radio Dept. and Peter Bjorn And John) has made it an unlikely indie hotspot. Norwegians Beezewax, though, are here to begin the catch-up and, judging from the amount of jangly hooks on display, they're aiming for the charts. 'Who To Salute', their latest offering, contains a number of potential singles, the most obvious being 'When You Stood Up', all wistful lyrics and stadium-sized choruses. Oddly embracing the emo tag, this song demonstrates that Beezewax are emo in the way that Death Cab For Cutie are: most of their songs lean towards introspection, just not in the hideously overt way used most bands commonly attributed to that label. This is Singer Kenneth Ishak, a solo artist in his own right, has a sweet, high, powerful voice which never veers into emo-whine territory.

Beezewax's main downfall seems to be overindulgence, as the otherwise great 'Paint Til You Die' is ruined by its horrible power-ballad outro. They're at their best when injecting more subtlety into their songwriting. 'The Cosmonaut' is the undoubted album highlight, a beautiful, upbeat and unbearably catchy song, the titular character being apparantly ten years old. Likewise, the gentle acoustic numbers which open and close the album make fine use of Beezewax's impressive way with a harmony. 'Shinjuko Park' is another highlight, its '60s riffing and sunny imagery setting it apart from a typical mid-album dip. On the evidence of these gems, Beezewax may soon find legions of admirers who will take instantly to their charms. The album's less remarkable second half suggests that a few more memorable tunes could make them an even more exciting prospect than they already are which, given Ishak's clear talent, will almost certainly happen. Take that, cocky Swedes.