Album: The Bees

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The Independent Culture

The profile-raising heavy rotation of their catchy cover of Os Mutantes' Latino-rock oddity "A Minha Menina" on that car advert has vastly increased expectations for this follow-up to The Bees' 2002 debut, Sunshine Hit Me. That album presented the Isle of Wight combo as a cross between Gomez and The Beta Band, with an inquisitive neo-traditionalist attitude that led them up all sorts of pop highways and byways, from Grateful Dead to reggae, Beach Boys to Bacharach. Sadly, as is so often the case, this sophomore effort doesn't so much build on those foundations as sink deeper into them. Although as stylistically diverse as ever, on tracks such as the galumphing boogie "Wash in the Rain"; the Sixties Brit-beat stomper "One Glass of Water"; and the throwback psychedelia of "Horsemen" and "Go Karts", The Bees' approach seems to have ossified into something rather more heavy-handed, closer to Ocean Colour Scene than Gomez, which can't really be deemed an improvement. The better tracks, such as "Hourglass" and "The Start", wield their eclectic instrumentation in a blandly pleasant manner, without ever actually gripping the listener's attention.