Under Review: The Bees – Every Step’s A Yes

If I were to go back and revise my list of my favorite albums of the ‘00s, I’d be sure to include The Bees’ Free The Bees in there somewhere.  Though that album was released just six years ago, it (like the group’s debut, Sunshine Hit Me) sounds like a forgotten artyfact from the late ‘60s.  Arriving over three years since The Bees’ last offering, Every Step’s A Yes keeps the band’s trademark retro sound, though it’s far more subtle in its delivery.  Subtlety wasn’t always such a major player in The Bees’ music, though I suspect leader/producer Paul Butler’s work on Devendra Banhart’s tedious What Will We Be chilled him out a bit more than his band’s natural evolution would have.  Still, Every Step’s A Yes features what every Bees album features: pretty good songwriting and great-sounding arrangements and production.  As soon as jangly opener “I Really Need Love” begins, I half expect a wordless vocal akin to the intro to “Little Bitty Pretty One” to kick in.  Though that doesn’t materialize, a distant sitar underscores the harmony-laden tune, the first of many unobtrusive flourishes.  “Winter Rose” gets into a reggae-ish groove, and “Silver Line” really really sounds like Fleet Foxes.

What makes Every Step’s A Yes noticeably different from other Bees albums is that the songs aren’t that noticeably different from one another.  The mellow, acoustic-based songs tend to run into each other, and the lack of big hooks makes for a bit of an impatient listen, particularly if you’re familiar with older gems like “Chicken Payback” and “No Trophy.”  In an odd move (and not unlike what happened on Banhart’s album), Every Step’s A Yes concludes with one of its standouts, the mostly-instrumental “Gaia.”  It’s a samba-splashed strut, with Mexicali horns and an undercurrent of pure joy.  This is what more of Every Step’s A Yes should’ve been like.  Then again, the album as it is rewards multiple listens, as its withdrawn style creates a sense of beguiling invitation.  Yes, The Bees are holding back this time around, but they’re still going to get you to come just a few steps closer.

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~ by E. on October 15, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: The Bees – Every Step’s A Yes”

  1. I ❤ the bees. Didn't realize this was out yet — thanks for the heads up Eric!

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