The Sick Bees – The Marina Album

The Sick Bees
The Marina Album

The Marina Album may confuse or frustrate you, but it probably won’t bore you. In the same way that Deerhoof throws you all kinds of curveballs over the course of an album, the Sick Bees love to keep you guessing. And with songs ranging in length from 23 seconds to about two minutes, you never have to wait long to find out what the next surprise will be.

It’s going to be difficult to describe this CD because it doesn’t have any real thematic or sonic unifying principles as far as I can tell. Some of the tracks don’t qualify so much as songs as they do repeated samples (as on “Le Beat O”) or minimalist percussion-driven oddities (“M Sings Jazz”). The more traditionally structured songs have their merits, though.

There’s a song about density, entitled “D = m/V,” which consists of a simple melody repeated a few times combined with someone stating that density is defined as weight divided by volume. There’s a song called “Prepared to be Dazzled,” which, while not exactly dazzling the listener, does entertain us for a minute (actually 1:05, to be exact). It has some horns at the end, coming out of nowhere. “Yer Cat Loves Me” has a detuned guitar to carry the melody, such as it is, and a verse consisting of “Yer cat loves me.” It ends a woman screaming “Give me your pussy,” but its double-entendre doesn’t seem funny or clever as much as it seems a little juvenile.

“My Beard” features, again, a detuned guitar. Its quiet beginning reminds me of something Ariel Pink might have done. However, the song doesn’t develop too far before it simply ends. As mentioned earler, these songs are so short that you don’t have time to get bored of or too annoyed by them. The album closer “God Will Stop Yer Party” – in all of its 23 seconds – sounds like a rave-up that maybe the Angry Samoans might have written if they’d been into psychedelic drugs.

If you’re at all interested by what you’ve read so far, I encourage you to watch the video for “Rat Traps” on the Bees’ website. It’s probably the best song on this collection, and it will show and tell you a lot about the band’s approach.

All in all, The Marina Album can be seen as a testament to experimental weirdness or a collection of half-baked ideas. Which way you see it probably depends on how open you are to the idiosyncratic musings of this musician duo and their warped way of playing with structure and melody. We all probably imagine ourselves to be open-minded, don’t we?