Wow – has this release thrown my bearings right out the window! Firstly, from the artwork, I was expecting to hear some sort of plaintive, intimate wyrd-folk offshoot, what with the muted colours, nostalgic line drawings and fonts, along with the actual titles. Turns out the music is actually remarkably expansive in a way that most non-mainstream bands are afraid to explore. So anyway, I listen to the EP a few times – on the home stereo, in my headphones – and have them pinned as a very British band – those expansive traits are now sounding sort of The Bends-era Radiohead, though it’s more to do with mood than any sort of derivative relationship – with possibly some sort of large indie label production and promotion budget. But, when I google them, I find they are actually from Brisbane, are on quite a tiny label and are gigging in the kinds of venues that allow any interested listener in their home city to have very close access. I’ve been completely thrown, and I like it.
Drawn From Bees utilise a fairly traditional set-up, guitars (acoustic and electric), bass, drums and a sprinkling of keyboards. But it’s the songwriting that is their real strength. Whether muted and harmony driven, as on ‘A Mightly Splash’, or explosively epic as on ‘All This Time’, the songs are structured perfectly to achieve their specific aims. The melodies are memorable. The harmony in ‘English Line’, my personal favourite track, sounds flat wrong as it starts, until it is sustained and you realise the dissonance is key to the tension being built. ‘Talk To God’ is a twisted lullaby whose melody hangs about your head, no matter how pretentious the lyric. My only reservation is the sometimes overly operatic singing but it generally goes with the existential nature of the lyrics and mostly manages to fall on the right side of pompous. That aside, The Boy & The Ocean is the sound of a confident band striving for a big statement, and generally succeeding.