Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
[Tiny Engines, 2018]
Key Tracks: “nail i couldn’t bite”, “poly swim”, “hypnic jerks”
A hypnic jerk is a thing that happens as you are drifting off to sleep. Your body will jerk itself back awake for an unknown reason. It’s not really known why this happens, and trying to explain the medical phenomenon would be like trying to explain this album.
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From open to close, Pennsylvania psychedelic indie band The Spirit of the Beehive brings a surreal feeling to every track in their fourth album Hypnic Jerks. From the first track “nail i couldn’t bite” to “it’s gonna find you”, Hypnic Jerks buzzes with warmth and familiarity.
The Spirit of the Beehive never shies away from the use of an unusual effect, almost veering toward an ominous tone. Through the entire album, they frequently use recordings, seemingly from a family event. For example, “monumental shame” opens on a birthday party before it moves into a soft acoustic line. “fell asleep with a vision” uses a monotonous yet dissonant hum to open and close before resolving the tension in “can i receive the contact?” This track also seems to use something that sounds like a combination of a tolling bell and a fire alarm.
This doesn’t mean The Spirit of the Beehive can’t make a lyrical tune. “poly swim”, a track that seems set apart from the rest of the album, mellows the lines between almost silence and glistening synth arpeggios. The track waves and flows over simple acoustic lines without becoming boring or repetitive. At almost five minutes, the track could almost lull you to sleep as it closes with near silence and a few more notes, letting the track shimmer into nothing.
After this relaxing float, the music changes into a creaking and shivering movement. Underneath is a recording of a man talking about his family and having dinner and things like that. Halfway through “d.o.u.b.l.e.u.r.o.n.g.”, the track switches and the band members slip back on over a grinding guitar riff.
The title track stands apart as one of the most upbeat and driven tracks on the album. “hypnic jerks” is downright danceable. It experiments with different beats and time signatures to give an unpredictable rhythm before returning to the consistent beat of the chorus. The only downside of this track is that the production doesn’t let it slam as hard as you want it to.
The final track, “it’s gonna find you” is an almost six-minute epic, incorporating all of the best parts of the album. Between the sampling of whistling winds, cat sounds, beautiful melodic lines and soft production, it gives a sample of everything that made this album great. The album literally goes out with a bang, as in the last sound you hear is reminiscent of a car screeching its tires into a crash.
Overall, the album brings a psychedelic and mystical tone that is rare to see. The songs can stand alone but are better experienced as one long track. Sit back, get buzzed, and enjoy.