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Songs for the Ravens
Sea of Bees Songs for the Ravens
Released 4 February 2011
Producer Sea of Bees, John Baccigaluppi
Label Heavenly
Length 43:40
Genre Altenative, indie
Website www.seaofbees.com

I’m not sure what the titular ravens would make of all this. Over the course of eleven tracks Sea of Bees have provided our feathered friends with a hefty dose of yuppie ennui. Julie Baenziger, the power behind Sea of Bees, has a voice redolent of Cerys Matthews circa 'Lost Cat' and she makes the most of it, pushing it towards Toytown in 'Willis' and losing its gamine quality in 'Marmalade'.

The music that accompanies her voice is downbeat and sparse throughout, with the exception of the train-track drumming on 'Sidepain'. Excepting that track, the songs are described with languid drums, musicbox chimes, and hollow, echoing guitars that don’t so much reflect the subjects of loss and regret as sound like theme tunes to the breakfasts of lonely secretaries in anonymous cities. The problem is that this feels like a copy of something that has long gone before. Worse still, it seems to say nothing to anyone about anything. Droning to your friends is bad. Droning to strangers is not tolerated. Recording your droning to CD so as to reach as many strangers as possible is an odd thing to do. Asking them to pay for the privilege is demanding a monumental indulgence.

Ravens have been associated with misery for a long time. But they have only been associated with it by human beings. It’s doubtful that ravens, dark and croaking as they are, are miserable creatures. For all we know they’re having a whale of a time. Why not? Life’s too short to wallow in misery. It’s interesting to note just what glum creatures so many singer/songwriters are. Nietzsche was right when he said that ‘pity makes suffering contagious’. One dismal soul is bad enough, but ‘feeling their pain’ –rather than helping– spreads the misery.

Perhaps more songwriters should point out what can be done, use their skills to give people a spring in their step, as opposed to calling us up on the stereo to tell us their problems. It’s bad enough when the world’s media seems driven to reporting nothing but demoralising news, but when artists join in it's time to withdraw that famous second chance.

- Paul McGranaghan