Given the positivity running through their music, it seems only natural for The Bees to decree that Every Step’s A Yes. A heart warming declaration, too, for it has not been an easy few years for the Isle Of Wight’s finest.
That much can be determined from the undercurrents through this record, their most mature to date. There is evidence here of lessons learned, experiences gained, and, most crucially, loves lost and found. The titles alone are evidence of this – Change Can Happen (“and it usually does”), Tired Of Loving and No More Excuses. Yet all have been harnessed to positive effect, as they look back towards the 1960s and far west, to California.
Their sound is now shot through with Beach Boys and Byrdsian melodies, wistfully expressed through beautiful harmonies and hazy guitars, with a lazy psychedelia often to be found around the edges. The thoughtful Silver Line, one of their finest pieces of work yet, is a lovingly wrought song that uses some of these techniques, its soft harmonies dreaming of another shore while the bass line ambles down the street. Skill Of The Man is equally intense, the band achieving a keenness of emotion through little more than vocals and soft accompaniment. There is no posturing here.
Equally pleasing is the observation that the Bees have not completely turned their back on mariachi or fiesta, though these are more background features than before, with soft, out of focus brass around the edges. There is certainly no A Minha Menina or Chicken Payback here, but the postscript Gaia doffs its cap in their direction, while the wonderful lead off track I Really Need Love works well around Paul Butler’s sitar.
Now and then the palette is over coloured, and Change Can Happen, nicely stripped back when played live, feels over orchestrated here. Yet in a reflection of the group�s relaxed writing process, the three part harmonies tug at the heartstrings with their sincerity, allowed to do their thing with the minimum of fuss.
While less obvious then previous album Octopus, allowing more time for reflection, Every Step’s A Yes is nonetheless another example of The Bees’ songwriting prowess. As they get older the lasting impression is one of slight mellowing, but it suits them – and as long as every step does remain positive, they will continue to be one of our unsung musical treasures. This, a musical Indian summer, pushes them forward again.