Sea of Bees, headed by Julie Ann Baenziger (aka Julie Ann Bee), a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Sacramento, California, release Build a boat to the sun. After experiencing an epiphany at church, albeit musical as opposed to religious, ‘Bee’ fell headfirst into outpouring and channelling her emotions via music, swiftly and passionately acquiring musical aptitude and technique like collecting stamps.
This newie follows on from 2011’s debut Songs for the Ravens (an album that entranced no less a songsmith as Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle) and 2012’s break-up informed album Orangefarben.
‘Test Yourself’ is like a time-capsule from the 4AD stable, a summery folk-popper in the vein of the off-kilter confessionals of Throwing Muses, Belly or (the recently revived) The Juliana Hatfield Three) a ‘la-la-la’ chorus adorns this endearing and affecting opener.
‘Little sea’ is aural happiness and features a lovely horn section, short, simple and sweet a la Arthur Lee’s Love. ‘Dan’ is the standout, a slow-building moving moodscape evoking Grandaddy’s ‘The Crystal Lake’ with meandering and disorienting electronics that encircle the senses, this is happy-sad melancholy at its best.
The doo-woppy Chiffons/Shangri-Las-like ‘Dad’ is a not-overly mournful lament ‘I dreamed of you last night, building bridge ships to the sky’ with ‘Dad’s outsized footwear deployed as a metaphor for fitting/not fitting in.
Enjoyment of this album will depend on your tolerance of some of the vocals as there are times when they can grate, at worst coming across as simpering and winsome like an even more strangulated Joanna Newsom, an asphyxiated woodland sprite or coming across as a less weary, wary and battle-scarred Kristen Hersh in search of a ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ segment.
However, when they’re great (‘Test Yourself’, ‘Little Sea’ ‘Dan’) this is an enjoyable positively fragile album packed with a myriad of styles and emotions. This is about progression and how to go about negotiating the pitfalls and pratfalls of life. A mellow, meditative and musically varied yet also restrained album which denotes a blossoming future ahead. Climb onboard.