Review Summary: Birds + Bee Stings shows a band that is (mostly) putting more pride in their work.
After the impressively inconsistent debut that was We Have An Emergency, the Operation M.D. would really need to create something truly great to avoid having their name disappear into the vast ocean of failed side project. Judging by the fact that you have most likely never heard of this band, you can imagine what Cone McCaslin and Todd Morse failed to do. However, while Birds + Bee Stings isn’t a tremendous album by any stretch, it succeeds at sharpening the groups sound while keeping the same fun and casual vibe explored in the debut.
This album is one that begs the listener to not take it too seriously. Tracks like “Imaginary Friend” and “I’ve Been Drinking” are perfect examples of this, as they boast lyrics that are fun but not distracting from the bigger picture. The latter of these two is the best example of how this band can craft an amazing song if they put enough time and care into it.
When the duo takes the time to slow things down they also produce some great tunes. While rather generic, “Sick + Twisted” still proves itself to be a pleasant and warm ballad. The only other slow cut comes with “My Own Catastrophe,” a song that sounds like Cone’s vision of what Underclass Hero should have been [the album, not the song]. It’s the heaviest song on the album and it shows an interesting underbelly to all of the positive energy that’s emitted by the other tracks.
Perhaps what holds Birds + Bee Stings back the most is the lack of memorable songs. The bulk of the album is taken by pop-rock tunes that, while not bad, just seem substanceless. “Flashing Lights,” “Calling All,” and “Fault Line” all disappear from the listener’s memory about as fast as they appear. They’re not the worst the album has to offer, but they could have turned into something far better if the band tried. “Buried At Sea” is a great example of this; it’s fun, catchy, and oozing with summertime pop-punk vibes. It’s able to stand out because it sounds like a product that can’t be improved any more. It genuinely feels like the band sat down meticulously ironed out every issue until they were left with what would become one of the best songs the band has ever released.
Besides a few embarrassing missteps in the form of Dead Doctors, a lazy introductory track, and the title track, a clumsy, unenjoyable, and borderline unbearable listen from start to finish, Birds + Bee Stings shows a band that is (mostly) putting more pride in their work. By taking every quality of their debut and improving on it, the Operation M.D. succeeds at creating an enjoyable record, even if it won’t stand the test of time.