Mercury Prize-nominated buzz band returns with more ’60s-derived pop
A Band of Bees’ Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher are pretty shameless about their obsession with ’60s rock, drawing from usual-suspect influences—including The Beatles, Kinks, early Who and The Beta Band—for their second album, Free the Bees. Surprisingly, their sheer retro enthusiasm compensates for the music’s derivativeness—for some of the tracks at least. “These Are the Ghosts” conjures an eerie psychedelia (which is even more pronounced on the bonus Undead Version), and “Horsemen” rides a galloping Shondell-icious chorus. But during the grating “Chicken Payback” and the going-nowhere groove of “The Russian,” the nostalgia grows tiring as Free the Bees gets trapped by its own nostalgic sensibilities.