Spotlight – 11: She Keeps Bees
Here’s what Brooklyn two-piece, female-male coupling, She Keeps Bees DON’T sound like.
The White Stripes (What, did the number of people in the band fool you? Can’t think of many other groups with just two members?)
Cat Power (What, did the sparseness of the music fool you? Did you feel that sparseness automatically confers a ‘confessional’ edge? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most critics feel that way.)
Kristin Hersh (Is it the cylical pattern of the vocals you’re fooled by? Female singer… so you gotta compare with another female singer.)
PJ Harvey (See above. If your group sounds even vaguely bluesy and you have a female singer, you can best believe yr UK left-of-centre mainstream critics are going to be queuing at the gate to throw in the mandatory Polly Harvey reference. Why not chuck in The Gossip and Janis Joplin while you’re here? Oh wait. You have.)
Fiona Apple (Oh, do me a fucking favour.)
Oddly, however – now I’ve stated all that Nests, the stripped-back, soulful, bluesy – yes, bluesy – debut album from She Keeps Bees DOESN’T sound like, you’ve got a fairly clear idea of what it DOES sound like. And I ain’t looking to damn with faint praise, cos this is an original, it’s a breeder, a grower, a yearner, a burner, a fucking money-earner that would sit equally as well among my Art Of Field Recording albums as it would with my Toxic Shock B-sides. And yeah, fuck yeah – I’m not certain right now, only listened twice and things take time, they sure take time – but I reckon Nests might well be as great as the early recordings from some of the artists erroneously mentioned above (Polly Harvey and Chan Marshall, in particular) and… well, that’s praise, that’s high praise indeed.
It’s sexy, y’see. It’s sexy and soulful and isn’t afraid to show bone. The music broods and braids and never bottoms out. It’s only raw if you’re of the mind to take it that way: to me, it’s as fully-fleshed out and sweet and malignant as it ought to be. It makes me want to leave my dirty socks all over the floor. It makes me want to fuck humanity and create a new breed.
Anyhow, if you’re looking for groups to compare She Keeps Bees to – and why not, fuck it, we all need references so we have commonality, cos fuck knows adjectives don’t do it alone – then you should be looking in the direction of Canadian duo Mecca Normal.
And that’s the highest praise of all.