by Graham Crainshaw (@hotjuiceboxes)
The newest record from The Spirit of the Beehive entitled You are Arrived (but You’ve Been Cheated) is a fever dream that sets the listener in a dark bedroom writhing in sweat-soaked blankets. This release isn’t so much of a departure from their previous self titled LP as it is a descent deeper into the swirling dream world that the band has created. This band’s shoegaze tendencies, although still very present, lie more on the fringes of this album while the experimentation and psychedelia of their previous efforts remain in full swing.
The opening track “SFK” swells into existence with quivering synths unleashed from beer cans. A pounding mess of warbly guitars follows swiftly on the heels of rolling drums. Songwriter Zack Schwartz relays thoughts of uncertainty through the melody stating that despite some meek intentions, “it’s been a violent year” which characterizes the majority of the subject content of the album. Schwartz doesn’t seem to know how he got to this point (maybe at the bottom of some beer cans?) or who he’s turned into.
Apprehension, fear, and loss pervade the entire album and the relentless winding structure of the songs portrays a mind that is being ripped apart in a million different directions. “World Access” is in large part sung by bassist Rivka Ravede, and the song can’t seem to stay on one thought or section for more than a few phrases before nightmarish buzzing noises and strange voices insist that there is “no space” for her. As the howls of discordant guitars grow louder, the tempo slows and paranoia and claustrophobia set in. The only relief (and it’s not much of a relief) comes from Schwartz triumphantly singing “I can’t support you”, which oddly enough is one of the more catchy moments on the album despite the statement’s barefaced hopelessness. Whether this is born out of fear of trying or actual inability is never revealed, but in either case, fear comes up again. “Who Do You Belong To?” is a psych-punk banger that oozes loneliness and neurosis. Schwartz wails “fear is in the dark, in the cracks in the walls, in my veins via syringes, in my eyes, in my balls. I'm unsure”.
On the title track of the EP, the band delves into uncharted waters. It’s a disco-nihilist dream pop jam filled with scenes about “sniffing glue in strangers' cars” and “passing out on vomit soaked vintage couches”. An intensely funky bass groove propels this song underneath wobbly guitar lines in a way that’s totally new for The Spirit of the Beehive. It’s a dramatic departure from an already diverse pallet of sounds that this band has offered and is one of the many signs of growth on the album.
As the final line of the title track is whispered and the tape hiss dies out, The Spirit of the Beehive yanks the listener up to the emotional summit of the album: “Natural Devotion”. This is the band’s wheelhouse. An avalanche of sludgy guitars rush through this track as Schwartz matter-of-factly discloses stories of a deceased friend. His deadpan speaking gives way to melody and by the time the chorus of the song re-emerges from another hopeless spoken thought, the song is an anthem. It’s a pure moment and one of the only instances of beauty on the album that lies uncorrupted by noise. As the horns and chiming guitars fade away, a desperate distorted gasp for air reminds the listener that even though for a moment there was calm, fear and disillusionment lie right on the other side of it.