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Treadles - "Bees Are Thieves Too" | Album Review

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by Nick McGuire (@nickemcguire)

Though only 16 minutes and 6 songs, this EP packs a wallop. Treadles is a four-piece that originally began as the solo project of KC, one of the lead singers. Bees Are Thieves Too is their transition into a full-band. It takes parts of DIY indie rock examples while stepping out of those fundamental blocks. The EP begins with arpeggio guitar chords on “The Beingness of Trees,” as the lead singer begins their atmospheric wails. Vocally, the singers are hushed and intimate, yet they prick your skin with hefty warbles—or at darker moments, with aching screams. Listen to the way they lengthen “Swimmers” on that first track. The words are sparse, but the emotional depth is not. Sometimes you can’t make out the words, but when they do come into focus like, “I shaved my head again / I wish someone had called me beautiful” and “strangers put the fear of god / right back into me,” they kick you in the chest as details of a masterful self-analysis. 

The title is funny too, as Treadles asks us to consider the bees. Even though 10% of sales of this album go to the Bee Informed Partnership, I refuse to believe this is a concept album about bees, however cool that sounds. Instead, if you’d let me take a stab at its title, Bees Are Thieves Too attempts to conflate the human failures and need for sympathy with bees. Like humans, bees makes mistakes, are thieves—stealing pollen from our beautiful flowerbeds—and deserve the kindness we give to others when they are trying to make a living. 

Beyond the title, the music and lyrics intend to follow the disarray and happenings of narrators growing up, walking through the world, and feeling self-conscious. They refuse to sit in one gear. From the speedy math rock of “Albatross” that is a wealthy reference to Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, to the disembodied, classical-influenced “Soft Heap”—which houses the sweetest harmonies on the EP—Treadles refuses to check one box and leave it at that. 

Most notably their genre-bending indie rock hits the nail on “Hush.” Beginning with clean guitars and a simple backbeat, it sounds pretty mundane until in the background pops a delightful instrument that sounds like they electrified honey. From there it only rides on, rising until it slips off into a breakdown where they repeat “well you won’t catch my silence / you won’t feel a thing.” Later it swings between screaming rock and classical finger-picked softness. It’s a telling example of subtle innovation and Treadles, based on this work, will continue to grow brilliantly.