Sea of Bees - Songs For The Ravens
Charming and divertingly pretty but if this (ie wistful folksy females) is your bag, Sea of Bees are unlikely to tickle the spots that matter. On the surface, all is in order. Julie Baenziger's vocals are characterful enough to distract but not so helium-filled as to irritate, and the production is smartly judged with its acoustic guitars and burbling backing. It's the approach that doesn't quite grip, the likes of 'Marmalade' and 'Wizbot' dabbling in a wide-eyed, breathy worldview that might have captivated me as a student, when every doe-eyed Harriet Sunday and Angie Frente! sent me dashing for the blu-tack. But Baenziger is in her mid-twenties; a disposition as sunny as hers could surely curdle milk. And the mortgage and the school run have never really sat too comfortably with beatific daydreaming.
Baenziger toured the UK last month with Smoke Fairies and they deliver an apposite lesson in how to take traditional, arguably overdone elements and infuse them with daring and guile to take the form down new and compelling paths. A smarter option would be Swedish duo First Aid Kit, whose The Big Black and the Blue was probably 2010's best example of girls with acoustic guitars secreting flinty, taut dramatics beneath an apparently whimsical covering. Songs for the Ravens is agreeable enough and nicely produced but not nearly as involving as it ought to be.