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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Criminally Underrated Albums of the 2000's: #08


The Bees – Free The Bees

The wave of popularity that The Bees had rode from their Mercury nominated debut album Sunshine Hit Me left them in good stead for their second. Surprising some that album, 2004's Free The Bees completely blew it out of the water. Whereas Sunshine... was an oddball amongst oddballs, trailing hints of brilliance Free The Bees was a fully formed barn-storming '60's tinged masterpiece. Right down to the fantastic artwork (the whole booklet needs to be seen to get a full idea of this) not a foot was put wrong. Thankfully at the time, most people realised this.

Fast forward half a decade and The Bees buzzing has all but died down. In end of decade lists and reminiscing it's the more 'forward-thinking' music that's been praised, where records such as this – fully formed albums using a variation on traditional rock instrumentation – have been consigned to the mists of time. It's a shame as one listen to this and so many things immediately jump out, the Led Zeppelin via Isle of Wight guitar on 'No Atmosphere', the quirky trumpets on instrumental 'The Russian', the almost silly childlike lyrics of 'Go Karts' and of course the cheesy rock 'n' roll number 'Chicken Payback'.

Really, words cannot fully describe the feel that comes from this record any more than dancing can describe architecture (if you'll forgive the cliché). I can throw around words such as 'summery', 'blissful' and 'timeless' but still the full picture won't be there. In a decade where the disposable nature of pop has increased I would have thought that a record that honestly sounds as though it could have been recorded at any time in the history of popular music would be something that many of the critics would latch onto and say: “Look, bands! This is how music should be done”. Ability. Heart. Soul. Check. Check. Check.

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