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Bee Hives

Broken Social Scene
Bee Hives
(Arts And Crafts Records)

If you've been following this site at all, you know that I picked Broken Social Scene's album You Forgot It In People as my favorite release of last year. It was an album that has stuck with me over time and I still find myself going back to it over and over again. Needless to say, I stand by my choice and I have hopes that the group will just keep putting out great music as time goes on. To tide over those waiting for an official new release, the group has dropped this nice little album of b-sides that show the quieter side of the group. With tracks that were recorded well over 2 years apart from one another, it might be logical to think that the release would be an odd-n-sods sort of release, but it actually holds together pretty well considering.

Interestingly enough, the release actually feels more like a bridge between their debut release of Feel Good Lost and their second release rather than actual new material. It mixes in some mellow vocal tracks with hushed, post-rockish instrumentals, and while not every single track works wonders, there are a couple tracks that are so damn good you'll probably have to hunt this down if you're a fan of the group. After opening with an inconsequential un-named intro track, "Market Fresh" starts things off right with a dense, piano-driven track that easily feels like it could have come from You Forgot It In People.

"Weddings" doesn't fare quite as well, meandering all over the place with swirling electronics and strummy guitars for over 7 minutes without actually really going much of anywhere while "Hhallmark" picks things up a fair bit, layering programmed drums and a lush bassline with filtered horns and lovely electronics for an uplifting instrumental. Even though it runs 8 minutes, "Backyards" is probably the highlight of the entire release (and definitely the most upbeat). With Emily Haines (Metric) on vocals, the track absolutely soars with hazy keyboards and washed-out guitars while riding a multitude of percolating electronics and rhythms. So good.

Interestingly enough, the best song on the final one-third of the release is simply a rework of a track that the group has already done. "Lover's Spit" is at first stripped down to just vocals (by Leslie Feist) and piano, but builds to a controlled, but lovely climax that pays off in different ways than the original. Overall, the disc isn't quite as strong as either full-length by the group, but it has enough winners to make it something to hunt down if you like the group.

Rating: 6.75