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SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE

Spirit Of The Beehive

You’ll Have To Lose Something

    For the past decade, Spirit Of The Beehive have honed an aesthetic like no other. They’ve chopped up samples, chewed them up, spit them back out again, baby birded it. Across four albums and a smattering of EPs, Zack Schwartz, Corey Wichlin, and Rivka Ravede have fully solidified their stance as some of rock’s weirdest and best deconstructionists. 2018’s 'Hypnic Jerks' was a study in noise punk sampledelia. It was a breakthrough for the band. Frank Ocean became a fan, spinning “fell asleep with a vision,” on Blonded Radio. 2021’s ENTERTAINMENT DEATH, was nasty dream pop by way of K-Mart realism and hitting the channel search setting on an old TV set.

    Their last release, 2023’s 'i’m so lucky', explored the breakup between Schwartz and Ravede, setting the stage and emotional territory for the band’s fifth record, 'YOU’LL HAVE TO LOSE SOMETHING'. This latest offering is the most crystallized version of the band’s aesthetic, a continued meditation on the end of relationships and the unsteadiness that follows. It is a meticulous, beautiful, and quietly heartbreaking collection of songs. More often than not, it sounds like listening to a walkman from inside of a hurricane, like the YouTube videos you’d watch in bed for 18 hours straight after you break your wrist from a skateboarding accident.

    The goal in making 'YOU’LL HAVE TO LOSE SOMETHING' was to soften out some of the edges. “Less hard left turns,” says Wichlin. “We wanted to make something intentionally less antagonistic,” he jokes. In practice, this means the record has slightly fewer drastic arrangement changes, and it is more stripped down. Take 'I’VE BEEN EVIL', one of the newest songs on the record, as one such offering. It is straightforward in that its tempo is consistent, in that the song keeps us in the same place. It does not digress. It holds itself steady, with bleary-eyed guitars and hushed vocals. The song is weary, the song is a whisper. The utterance “I’ve been evil,” is like the shrug of a shoulder, a so what, ha ha.

    Less straightforward is the sublime 'LET THE VIRGIN DRIVE', a genuinely frightening pop track that anchors itself on fucked up Japanese City pop samples and a demented news clip of someone screaming. The song was originally written around the time the band was touring 'ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH', and took a few years to fully flesh itself out. It is like staring into the sun, like waking up in a body bag “It’s about unrequited love and making up a situation or whole life in your head,” says Schwartz of its thematic underpinning, “The other person finally ‘sees you’ and your ‘problems are solved,’ but they aren’t, really.” The song hiccups and warbles — you can hear the tape hiss, the instability, how it kind of feels like the whole song might get sucked into a black hole’s event horizon. “Heaven is a lie/cause you are earthly/and you’re alive,” Schwartz sings at the song’s outset.

    'YOU’LL HAVE TO LOSE SOMETHING' is a record of provocations. It wants you to think it is just normal rock ‘n’ roll music. That it is purely pleasure oriented. But beneath these intentions is a collection of songs that are as complex as ever. The Ravede-led 'FOUND A BODY', is a downtempo smoke cloud of variegated synths. “Found a body,” she sings “No one can touch me.” 'SUN SWEPT THE EVENING RED', starts out disconcertingly chipper, before breaking down into an assault of sludged out guitars, auto-tuned vocals, a flurry of strings. Like all SPIRIT records, it is music made by three distinct voices, written independently and then assembled together. Despite being written all over the globe, with Ravede in Portugal and Schwartz and Wichlin back in Philadelphia, the trio arrived at the same themes: that of the brutality of coming to terms with reality, that of what it means to lie to protect yourself and your heart. Schwartz says he writes songs more or less in a stream of consciousness. The band listens to very little outside music when working. The result is a record that very much is its own world. Where chaos is carefully organised, where being able to ever actually chill out is totally illusory, a trick mirror.


    TRACK LISTING

    1. The Disruption (Featuring Mspaint)
    2. Stranger Alive
    3. The Cut Depicts The Cut
    4. Let The Virgin Drive
    5. Sorry Pore Injector
    6. Found A Body
    7. Sun Swept The Evening Red
    8. Something’s Ending
    9. I’ve Been Evil
    10. 1/500
    11. Duplicate Spotted
    12. Earth Kit

    Spirit Of The Beehive

    The Door

      Six months on from the release of their critically-acclaimed fourth album, Entertainment, Death, Philadelphia trio Spirit Of The Beehive closeout 2021 with brand new 7” The Door, comprising two previously-heard but never physically released songs in “The Door Is Open” and “The Door Is Closing”.

      A special and limited release, 500 copies of the single have been pressed on cloudy teal vinyl. The 7” is led by “The Door Is Open”, a 2020 single that marked a new chapter for the band ahead of the release of Entertainment, Death. The song “continues to defy definition”, Stereogum said upon its initial release, before adding: “It’s amazing that they made such a short track feel like such a dreamy journey.”

      It’s backed by “The Door Is Closing”, a bright and skewed gem of a track that was originally released earlier this year via Through The Soil, a charity compilation that benefited the NAMI COVID-19 Mental Health Support Fund.

      Whether opened or closed, The Door is a bold reminder of Spirit Of The Beehive’s many layered and colourful ideas. It also ribbon-ties a brilliant 2021 for the band, one which saw Entertainment, Death labelled as “an intensely beautiful, intensely difficult record” by Pitchfork, a “sprawling odyssey of haunting dissonance and blissful euphoria” by Flood Magazine, and a "storm of sound with a deep humanity coming through” by Fader.

      Spirit Of The Beehive

      Entertainment, Death

        Ever since Spirit Of The Beehive released their self-titled debut in 2014, they’ve developed a reputation for being your favourite band’s favourite band. Theirs is the music of immersion, of confrontation, the kind that makes a listener stop and wonder, “How are they even doing that?” And as the years wear on, that sense of bafflement has made room for Spirit Of The Beehive to quietly but steadily ascend, with their most recent album, 2018’s Hypnic Jerks, leaving them poised on the precipice of wider recognition.

        Spirit Of The Beehive now release their fourth album and Saddle Creek debut, Entertainment, Death. The album signals new chapters for the band on multiple fronts, being the first to feature their new three-piece lineup, as well as the first to be entirely self-recorded and produced. Guitarist/vocalist Zack Schwartz and bassist/vocalist Rivka Ravede are now joined by new member Corey Wichlin, a multi-instrumentalist who relocated from Chicago to the band’s home territory of Philadelphia last year. In the spring of 2020, the trio began to write their new album at a distance by emailing les back and forth. “The process of making this album was basically the exact opposite of our experience creating Hypnic Jerks,” Schwartz explains. “We had to record that in seven days, because that was the studio time we had, whereas Entertainment, Death was made over the course of three, four months.”

        An abundance of time wasn’t the only difference. Recording remotely offered the band an incentive to experiment with new possibilities for their sound, resulting in an album that is unlike any Spirit Of The Beehive has released before. Once the band finished recording and mixing the album digitally, they mastered it to tape, lending the collection a textured, dimensional quality. “We knew we wanted to use some new instrumental elements on this album,” Wichlin says. “We're not going fully electronic,” Schwartz adds, “But guitar, bass, drums just get kind of monotonous.” Though Entertainment, Death doesn’t cohere in a single, unifying theme, the band samples old obscure commercials throughout, many of which guided the process of writing a song instead of serving as an appendage. Schwartz describes his songwriting process as a stream-of-consciousness, while Ravede asserts that she doesn’t typically write vocal parts with any specific intention in mind. “When I write, the narrative usually doesn’t present itself until after the song is done. And even then, it depends on how the listener interprets the words,” she reflects. Regardless of how dreamlike Entertainment, Death’s lyrics can be, reality rears its head throughout Entertainment, Death. The album isn’t a metamorphosis, it’s simply the newest iteration of a longstanding project. “There’s a line in the Bee Gees documentary that I think applies to us. I’ll paraphrase: ‘We may not have always connected, but we always stuck around,’” Ravede says. Schwartz jumps in, “Entertainment, Death: we’re still here.”

        TRACK LISTING

        01. Entertainment
        02. There’s Nothing You Can Do
        03. Wrong Circle
        04. Bad Son
        05. Give Up Your Life
        06. Rapid & Complete Recovery
        07. The Server Is Immersed
        08. It Might Take Some Time
        09. Wake Up (In Rotation)
        10. I Suck The Devil’s Cock
        11. Death


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