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A Band of Bees

It makes sense that A Band of Bees (known elsewhere in the world as simply the Bees) recorded their latest album at the storied Abbey Road recording studios: Free the Bees is full of unabashed ’60s retro revival enthusiasm with a modern, Beta Band-ish, electronic tweak. Most of the songs off Free the Bees sound like less sinister Jim Morrison outtakes, perhaps when he was on the upswing of a LSD trip.

Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher, the founding duo behind the Bees, are natives of Britain’s secluded Isle of Wight. Perhaps it is the isolation of their youth that helped the Bees produce such an eclectic record. Though most of the influences on Free the Bees are straight out of the summer of love, they come from different ’60s sources. While some songs, like “Wash In the Rain,” sound like the Doors, “I Love You” is straight Motown, a sweet ballad that could be out of the Temptations’ catalog.

The highlight of Free the Bees is certainly the fifth song on the album, “Chicken Payback.” Full of nonsensical mojo, this song is like a nouveau “Louie, Louie”: “Pay the monkey back, back / Pay the monkey back,” Butler chants. “Chicken Payback” could provide the soundtrack to a mod dance montage in any Austin Powers movie. It’s perfect twisting music. Free the Bees is out June 28 on Astralwerks. The album originally debuted in the U.K. last year, but the Astralwerks release has two bonus tracks to whet your whistle.

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