Philadelphia’s The Spirit of the Beehive kicked up a moderately-sized storm last year with the release of their self-titled debut LP. This year the band return with a brand new EP entitled YOU ARE ARRIVED (but you’ve been cheated), which sees them continue to develop their brand of noisy, densely layered, punk-tinged pysch rock.
‘SFK’ opens proceedings with blaring, droning horns before a clatter of drums gives way to a rumbling and rebellious lo-fi racket, the lyrics vague but with a dose of offhand apathy, “they want my body / I’ve suffered major damage to my brain / I’ll never think the same / necromancing in private rooms / I think I botched my future too soon”. The second half forgoes conventional vocals for samples, ending in one about rich kids from private schools and the chemicals they bring into town. Next up is ‘WORLD ACCESS’, a syrup-thick, plodding rock song with yelps and bursts of sheer noise and vocal samples which plead “wait wait wait” and “no no no”. The song possesses the fuck-it ethos of punk rock, before decelerating abruptly with 40 secs left, giving way to acoustic guitars.
The title track is slower still, slinking along in a narcotic haze, lyrics setting a tone of Easton Ellis-style self-destructive nihilism, “way back when since grade school, I’ve been down, kicked around, scratching eyes from prick third graders, sniffing glue in strangers’ cars, passing out on vomit soaked vintage couches”. ‘NATURAL DEVOTION’ has big crunchy LVL UP style guitars and chugs along behind spoken vocals which sound like sound bites from the best teen movies never made.
“Bobby took me down to the shore yesterday. he pointed at the ocean and said “can’t you fucking see?” and I said “sure, what’s in it for me?” Natural devotion. When we held hands for too long if worry people might stare. But bobby passed away last week. I bet he never cared. now I live all alone. I disguise my voice on the phone.”
‘JOAN’ opens with a really weird witchy voice, like some garbled curse. The song itself is almost shoegazey lo-fi dream pop, with male/female vocal harmonies and lyrics strung-out and wondering. The track ends with ambient sounds of kids running around, a sound which somehow seems to marry perfectly with the cover art. Closer ‘WHO DO YOU BELONG TO?’ is all jangling, wailing guitars and punky vocals
“I’m alone in this house like I’m alone with these sentences. Every step I take is one more closer to the void. I’m afraid. I’m annoyed. I’m convulsing with the boys and I’m through. Fear is in the dark, in the cracks in the walls, in my veins via syringes, in my eyes, in my balls. I’m unsure. All those photos showing smiling faces turn. Twist and bend to new proportions. Speed up. Slow down. I can see your face in a dream”
That last line encapsulates something that was on my mind mind after a few listens of this record. Namely, this is what dream pop would sound like if it were based on the actual dreams of disaffected youth and not fluffy floaty Hollywood ones. It’s dense and messy and overwhelming, built up of layers and layers of glimpses and snatches, of voices real and imagined, of thoughts and worries and rebellions, concurrently furiously aggressive and yawningly empty, with lulls of slinky eerie quiet and spasmodic blasts of power-tool noise.
YOU ARE ARRIVED (but you’ve been cheated) is out in September. You can preorder it now in a variety of prettily coloured records via Ice Age Records (cream or light blue vinyl) or Ranch Records (cream
or light green vinyl). Alternatively you can download it on a name-you-price basis via the The Spirit of The Beehive Bandcamp page.