Guided by Voices
Bee Thousand



by Zebra USER (177 Reviews)
December 12th, 2006 | 18 replies

Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

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.

Bee Thousand 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.

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user ratings (442)
other reviews of this album
robin EMERITUS (5)
dodododododo kicker of elves...

robertsona STAFF (5)
Enigmatic, catchy and timeless, Bee Thousand is pretty much the definition of a classic....

Shadowed Reflection (5)
One of the Indie classics, Bee Thousand truly is quite unique....

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 12th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, I've been listening to this for the past few days and haven't been able to really get into it yet. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory is a great song though.

December 12th 2006


one of my favorite albums of the 90's

December 12th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

de de de de de de de great album heree

The Jungler
December 13th 2006


Great review, you gave me plenty of reasons to get more into these guys (but the reccs. and the fact that you gave it a four probably would have been enough anyways). I've heard a few songs from these guys, but not enough.

December 13th 2006


Congrats on hitting a buck twenty-five. Good review also. Voted, I did.

December 13th 2006


This review makes me want this.

Shadowed Reflection
May 6th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

Dib-sies on Alien Lanes. I'll write it up at school then put it on the computer.

Shadowed Reflection
June 27th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

This album fucking rocks. Just a little bit better than Alien Lanes.

July 23rd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I just came round to this album realising why it's so good. It's like 2 albums condensed into one. The opening song is my favourite I reckon, it's strangely anthemic for a 2 minute song.

Shadowed Reflection
August 1st 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

Although I agree about how the album grows on you, I still think that 4 isn't giving it enough credit. How many albums have 20 tracks and is listen-able from start to finish without having to skip tracks? I 'spose it's a matter of opinion. Good review though! I'll post mine soon.This Message Edited On 08.01.07

August 1st 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

This album is ridiculous. Every single song is a masterpiece.

Shadowed Reflection
August 4th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

Sorry about yet another comment here but Doug Gillard isn't the guitarist in GBV at this point in time. Gillard joined GBV for Mag Earwhig with the rest of Cobra Verde who replaced everyone in GBV except Pollard. Most of the guitar work on the album is by Pollard or Tobin Sprout.

March 14th 2008


smothered in hugs is one of the best songs ever

March 14th 2008


Yeah, I was thinking of looking into this band sometime in the future.

May 31st 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Some songs here are awesome, but others I find completely awful. Overall, this is ok, but overrated.

May 31st 2008



October 27th 2008


Some songs here are awesome, but others I find completely awful. Overall, this is ok, but overrated.
replying to post made half a year ago to point out how stupid it is because this album is perfect

August 11th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

I don't really get the universal acclaim for this album honestly. Some of it is near unlistenable to me.

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