Beehive enter the world jaded, tired and boring.
Nihilism certainly seems to have a firm grip on the music of 2019. Just look at the adulation enshrining Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell! or Lingua Ignota’s Caligula and Mgła’s Age of Excuse. All of them stare directly at a world filled with conmen, monsters and a sweeping sense of dread. Beehive inhabit that realm, but prefer to look inward or, more likely, sneer at everyone around them trying to muddle through. Formed by vocalist/guitarist Jake Sprecher and bassist Bud Amenti, Beehive’s debut EP Depressed & Distressed is swarming, angry music that lacks the sting of their insectile namesake.
Promotion for Beehive flaunts their Wire and Suicide influences, but as befitting a California band, their nucleolus germinates from two dead punk legends: Dead Kennedys and the Dead Milkmen. Not in an exact stylistic fashion per se, more in worldview. The post-punk tendencies make sense in context of Sprecher’s long and varied history with various, steely punk groups in the Bay area. But the nuance many of his forefathers brought to their lyrics and music is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Beehive slurs with apathy and nastiness.
Depressed & Distressed, from the title down, is a Dead Milkmen view on the world: aka dim and hateful. But while Dead Milkmen mixed their curmudgeonly gripes with humor, Beehive struts out an aloof disdain for everything around them. Sprecher refers to the record store as the “graveyard of my youth,” meaning to sound profound but coming across as pitifully jaded. Later he slurs he’s “somewhere between nostalgic and depressed/ I’m not sure which one is better” and follows it up with the revelation of “a dollar CD is a dollar, you know?” He goes from an Ian Curtis façade to Suicidal Tendencies’ Cyco Miko with no budget or editing.
This seems to firmly be Sprecher’s baby, as you can barely hear the bass on some tracks. Though that could come down to the muddy production and slapdash sound that the band, either by technical limitation or aesthetic choice, glommed onto. Depressed & Distressed was recorded all in one take, straight to tape, but it sounds like every song here was thought up on the cigarette break before they headed into the studio. The preprogrammed beats are Casio-fodder and when Sprecher isn’t suffering delusions of grandeur, he’s repeating the same lyric over and over ad nauseum. Take “You’re So Fascinating,” which he delivers in a baffling fake British accent while pretty much just coughing the song title for two minutes. Maybe the lyrical delivery is meant to reflect our everyday conversations that circle around the same topics, but there was probably a more interesting way of doing it. Art does not always need to imitate the most annoying aspects of life.
Upon reflection, Depressed & Distressed doesn’t live up to its album title. It barely lives up to any emotional weight at all. Instead, Beehive enter the world jaded, tired and boring.