It didn’t exactly surprise me how much I liked Lost Bees on a first listen. I’ve been a fan of this band since I first heard them (‘Charlotte Street’) and enjoyed No One Loves You Like I Do to bits (especially ‘Day eleven’.) What surprised me was that the old bouquet still tastes as fresh and new as when I first heard them, even if there are hints of oak and peat in the aftertaste, akin to what a fine 12 year old scotch would punch your tastebuds with.
Whenever I’m asked to define what this band sounds like, I say “soaring flight/mad nosedive”, because rise, flight and fall are all actions that come to mind with the dynamics of their music. Let’s say the electronic buzzing that starts ‘Again’, the album opener, is the sizzle of a line of black powder flashing towards a barrel, leading to a tremendous explosion. You are punched by the energy wave and the moment you lose momentum and head towards the ground with ‘God only knows’, you realise you are falling near the place where the barrel initially was.
The act of rising is well covered in the faster moods of Lost Bees. ‘Ice cream eyes’ has the rhythm section overcasting everything else to give your head a good sprint, with Eric Abert providing one of the finest basslines of 2014. The vertiginous ‘Lost Bees’ is terminal velocity, increasing exponentially to allow Chris Metcalf (drums) do what he does best. ‘Passion Pit’ is a tight trip that wastes not a single moment of its economical running time.
Now, although I’ve pretentiously ranted about aromas a few paragraphs ago, the incorporation of electronics (hinted during No One Loves You Like I Do ) is quite evident and useful in Lost Bees to add an extra layer of flavour to the music, which is pretty straightforward in ‘Eyes and teeth’, a moody and reflective electronic piece that is set alight just before flashing into ‘Lost Bees’. The “prog rock symphony” that closes the album, ‘God Only Knows’, has an extended outro that is made up of electronic atmospheres that cycle back towards the beginning of ‘Again’, allowing you to never leave the album’s loop. It’s a lovely bookend.
As much as I love The Life and Times on their wild Space Rock shenanigans, my favourite track of this album is their most down to earth one. ‘Palatine’ is mostly acoustic and although it is grounded, you can see it stand on its toes a few times, mostly pushed towards the sky by Allen Epley‘s melancholic croon. The feeling is more akin to those “oh, now it’s all becoming clear” introspections you indulge in when you are a little older. That’s probably why I like it so much: introspection and The Life and Times are like peas and carrots.
A few years ago, Kevin Smith justified making a sequel to Clerks because he wanted to explore what happens to the angry young man when he grows up. Dante, the main character, doesn’t seem to be that much into anger, but comes across as extremely frustrated, a condition that age exacerbates. In Lost Bees, the long journey of The Life and Times seems to still sport that catharsis that fuels on nostalgic emotions, using a few different approaches to their music without ever really losing the feeling that drives them. I still don’t know what feeling is the one The Life and Times instils in the senses, but I sure hope they don’t lose it any time soon.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López