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The Bees - Octopus

The Bees, Octopus

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

IT’S been almost three years since The Bees released their Free The Bees album, which spawned the classic cut Chicken Payback.

They return with Octopus, an album recorded in the band’s own studio on their native Isle Of Wight. The result is utterly brilliant, an upbeat collection of summer-friendly tracks that genre-hops as only The Bees know how.

From the laidback bluesy vibe of album opener (and lead single) Who Cares What The Question Is, through to the short, funky album closer End Of The Street (surely this album’s Chicken Playback), the album takes you on a musical journey of immeasurable quality.

Paul Butler takes the music reigns and Aaron Fletcher resumes lyrical control for 10 tracks that barely skip a beat. There simply isn’t a dud among them.

Second track Love In The Harbour is one of several highlights, a ’70s-influenced slice of folk-rock that’s packed with classic guitar riffs, mouth organ and Neil Young sensibilities. It’ll be a terrific track to play around the campfires this festival season, or on the beach!

It’s followed by the ska and reggae steeped Left Foot Stepdown, another confident performer that’s brimming with musical flourishes. Fletcher’s vocals provide a nice guide but it’s the horns and pianos that really impress, taking the more rudimentary ska and reggae format and really stretching its legs.

The chorus, too, is an absolute gem; the type of which continues that blissful vibe the band seems to carry with it so effortlessly.

Got To Let Go changes pace again with a shuffling beat and some more stabs of brass and organ that work so well together, before Listening Man drops a distinctly Mamas and Papas vibe, complete with soulful horns. It’s a track to have summer’s courting couples swooning and it’s damn-near impossible not to fall in love with.

Thereafter, the hits keep on coming. Stand flirts with a Buena Vista Social Club kind of vibe, while there’s more soulful guitar licks and a really smooth groove to (This Is For The) Better Days.

The Ocularist employs some sitar-style riffs over the top of a pleasant country ramble, and Hot One! ups the tempo with some banjo and background wailing. It’s an excellent way to prepare listeners for the end-of-album romp that is End Of The Street.

In short, The Bees have excelled themselves once again. Octopus is a diverse collection of songs that’s evidence of a band on impressive form, generating a vibe that’s utterly infectious.

It may only be March but Octopus is a near-perfect soundtrack for the summer. Just remember to take it with you once the sun comes out.

Download picks: Love In The Harbour, Left Foot Stepdown, Listening Man, End Of The Street, Got To Let Go

Track listing:

  1. Who Cares What The Question Is?
  2. Love In The Harbour
  3. Left Foot Stepdown
  4. Got To Let Go
  5. Listening Man
  6. Stand
  7. This Is For The Better Days
  8. Ocularist
  9. Hot One
  10. End Of The Street