It's strange how important context is to the way we perceive music. Whether it is personal context -- where we are in our own lives when we experience it for the first time -- or the bigger picture of where an album falls within its scene or even culture as a whole, something about when and where we first hear a piece music lends it much more weight than it could ostensibly hold by itself. For me, Worker Bee's Divorce Your Legs
is a perfect example of what context can do for a record. Maybe it's because I was introduced to this band during a very important transitional phase in my life, or maybe it's because every time I hear this I can still almost see the band playing in the tiny, dark, over-crowded art studio that introduced them to me. Or maybe it really would be every bit as good to another listener's ears as it is to mine, I don't know, but something about Divorce Your Legs
has earned it a special place amongst my favorite albums, despite the fact that it is a fairly standard post-rock record.
This is not to sell the album short though, because this is definitely an excellent release. Worker Bee’s spacey, somber approach to post-rock never conjures images of dark, apocalyptic wonderworlds, and doesn't quite reach the beautiful and cinematic heights of some of the greats in the genre, but nonetheless produces a wistful and ultimately satisfying sound. Made up of a somewhat standard line up of two guitars, drums, bass and occasional keyboards, the band play a style that focuses more on color, texture, and atmosphere than it does layers of melody or cathartic crescendos, and this is perhaps the band’s greatest success. It doesn’t take much to get their point across, and often it is the simplest parts of the album that have the greatest effect. Take, for example, the understated, drifting intro of “Recital,” one of my personal favorite moments on the record. A plodding, but somehow remarkably catchy drum pattern sets the stage for a perfectly spacey and noodly guitar line, accompanied by sustained keyboard notes, but despite each piece being somewhat underwhelming, the sum of the parts creates a dense atmosphere that belies the minimalistic part-writing on display.
The band can also definitely throw down when it comes time though. “Imploder” features a distant-sounding, tapped guitar bridge section before the full band joins, creating a huge, color-heavy wall of sound that you can’t help but want to nod your head to. With one of the more memorable guitar lines on the record, and a pulsating rhythm section pounding along behind it, the effect is a loud, oh-so-satisfying climax that’s sure to be ear candy for any fan of the genre. Interestingly though, for all the dynamic playing and mature song writing, you’ll hardly notice for the overshadowing atmosphere that envelops the whole record. Listening to Divorce Your Legs
conjures a cold, dark feeling, and rather than grounding the listener in the present and demanding full attention, allows for a sort of drifting sensation that perfectly compliments the plodding nature of the music itself.
While Divorce Your Legs
probably isn't going to become anyone's favorite album, it definitely brings enough to the table to make for a great listen, and fans of the genre would be wise to give it a shot. Worker Bee may not be doing anything especially spectacular or groundbreaking, but they have surely packed enough wistfully beautiful, heart-on-the-sleeve moments here to keep you coming back after the first listen.