By Max Askari
If you’re an avid reader of On Air Next, you’ll remember “Hypnic Jerks” by The Spirit of the Beehive. We love this record so much here at 1190 that we’re making it October’s CD of the Month. The Spirit of the Beehive has been a favorite here at the station since their performance at Backspace, a former DIY venue in Denver.
The Spirit of the Beehive, named after the 1973 film by director Victor Erice, hails from Philadelphia, PA. “Hypnic Jerks” is their third LP and the most critically acclaimed yet. In a rollercoaster of energy, the songs flawlessly transition between each other (it’s often ambiguous where one song ends and the other starts.) The name, referring to the small spasms one may have as they fall asleep, perfectly describes the feel of the album. It has more dream pop ethos than any of the band’s prior work, but the smooth, lethargic and floating feel is often interrupted by an odd time signature or drastic transition just as you settle in. The result is an album that entertains for its full 38 minutes.
A distinctive feature of The Spirit of the Beehive’s music is their use of vocal sampling during interludes and transitions. For “Hypnic Jerks”, all the samples come from home recordings bassist Rivka Ravede’s father made when he was younger.
While “Hypnic Jerks” doesn’t have a bad track on it, my favorites include “nail i couldn’t bite,” “can i receive the contact?” and “hypnic jerks.”
“nail i couldn’t bite” opens the album, starting with the iconic samples and an ambient synth background. There’s an immediate transition into a partially reversed vocal line from singer Zack Schwartz, then another transition into the meat of the song, which sets the mood for the entire record. Heavier reverb from all instruments and sustained synth pitches help the dreamy feel. After winding down, the song picks back up into a full chorus.
“can i receive the contact?”, the first single from the record, sounds a little closer to what fans are used to from the band. The heavily distorted, layered guitar sits as the core of the song. After a quick transition (again heavy on the vocal samples), arpeggiated guitar backs the chorus of the song. Always diverging from traditional songwriting, The Spirit of the Beehive often have multiple, non-repeated sections instead of the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure we hear in a majority of modern music.
Finally, “hypnic jerks,” my personal favorite track on the album, shows some of the influence The Spirit of the Beehive must’ve gained from their tour with Palm. A sharp guitar line at the beginning leads into a mathy section of guitar and a catchy vocal melody that’s kept me coming back to this song almost every day since its release.
Ultimately, this album does everything right. The cohesiveness of the album and the band’s ability to change their sound while still satisfying fans reassures me that The Spirit of the Beehive are one of the most talented and innovative rock groups active in 2018.