I must admit that I was scared when I first gave Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand
a listen. At first it seemed like boring, generic, dull, and half-assed indie-rock. I couldn’t believe how many various internet sources hailed the album as one of the greatest lo-fi/pop albums of the 90's, it just boggled my mind how so many different people thought that Bee Thousand
was anything special. Disgusted with my own foolish gullibility I put the album down for a while and decided to stay away from it for a few weeks.
The next time I gave Bee Thousand
a listen I started warming up to it a little bit. Everytime I gave it another listen it just got better and better as time went on. For an album with only twenty tracks that runs at a mere thirty-six minutes it sure is some catchy and powerful stuff. Behind the scratchy, lo-fi production there are some insanely catchy vocal and guitar melodies. The music is fairly simple, Doug Gillard will play a noisy, scratchy guitar line and Rob Pollard will sing over it in his whimsical, childish vocal delivery. A good portion of the album is dominated by these noisy lo-fi rockers but there are plenty of angular breaks in-between.
The most charming aspect of Guided By Voices’ songwriting would have to be the brief song lengths. At first the album can be overbearing since there are so many tracks but the songs seem like they go by in just a matter of seconds. While lo-fi, noisy production usually gets tiresome after an extended period of time Pollards lyrics are very interesting and strange. Throughout the twenty songs you’ll hear about UFO’s, strange robots boys, insects, scientists, and demons. The lyrics create some incredibly strange imagery and when you’re exposed to so many interesting ideas in such a little amount of time it’s really a unique experience.
isn’t the most varied album out there but there are plenty of entertaining ideas and songwriting concepts. The albums main focus is on, fuzz filled pop tunes (Buzzards and Dreadful Crows
, Echos Myron
) but you’ve also got soft, chilling acoustic driven efforts (Awful Bliss
, Esters Day
) and strange, spontaneous pieces (A Big Fan of the Pigpen
, Her Psychology Today
.) If you don’t like a certain song then you’re in luck because it’s not going to last anymore than two minutes long. But in all honesty the album is hard not to enjoy, it’s just so easy to get caught up in the albums noisy, lo-fi sound and Pollards zany lyrical imagery also draws you in.
Whenever I think I’m going to take a break from Bee Thousand
I always find myself coming back. It’s solely because every single song has at least one redeeming quality, Bee Thousand
can become so addicting because there are so many various melodies and rhythms to get latched onto whether it comes from Pollards whimsical voice or Gillards skeletal guitar work. The music is just straight up catchy without being overproduced or sappy and that’s what makes Bee Thousand
such a fun adventure.
In the end Bee Thousand
is an excellent lo-fi/pop album that any indie fan would enjoy. The music sounds very similar to Sebadoh and Pavement, noisy, guitar driven, and poppy. Although many critics refer to this album as a classic within its genre I disagree. If there’s one aspect that drags Bee Thousand
down it’s that the music can get a bit to noisy and erratic at times and it’s also difficult to get into since the songs are so brief. Besides that slight problem Bee Thousand
is a very likeable album; it’s simple, it’s melodic, and the lyrical content is quirky and adventurous. Guided By Voices didn’t necessarily create a masterpiece but they did create one hell of an album with Bee Thousand