I was lucky enough to interview There Are No Bees last year at the time they released their debut EP Before and now their debut LP House Party is here.
As they said in the interview, there are not a lot of experimental hip hop artists in Christchurch so coming across a group producing this kind of music locally is pretty damn cool and House Party is a great album!
There’s a not so sneaky Brockhampton reference in the song Dirt where they claim to be “the second best boyband since One Direction”. They may wear their influences on their sleeves, but the local context makes their music as unique as Brockhampton’s is but in an NZ way.
Musically, there’s the influence of other favourites of the duo – both International and NZ hip hop and other genres including experimental music. I hear a bit of Avantdale Bowling Club in the avant jazz influence which comes through in the instrumentation of tracks like “Smooth Riding”, “Relax” and “Ode to a Friend” on House Party.
Sam’s beats continue to be interesting and as he said in the interview, on House Party they lean more towards the electronic and the industrial. It’s a city album, for sure and there are plenty of Christchurch references which locals will pick out. They don’t present a rose tinted view of the city though and that’s a feeling which resonates with me about my hometown, so it was cool to hear this captured in music. Maybe I’m projecting a bit there but that’s the beauty of what music can mean to you listening to it. Perhaps it’s also about life not being perfect and figuring things out always being an ongoing process.
The album is conceptual – it takes us on a journey through a house party. You have the songs that go hard and have a party vibe, then these seamlessly segue through romantic songs like “Smooth Riding” towards the second half of the album which is as if the party has progressed and people have drunk too much, got too high, but more importantly they have got real emotionally and had those early hour conversations. I’m not saying the first half is less emotional – life is all the emotions and vibes – just like a house party and the party this album is.
Sam and Josh share a variety of their personal stories on this album – the boredom of the nine to five, the struggle of creativity, relationships, friendships, even the trappings of rap. There are also plenty of references to art and pop culture. Kubrick and iCarly and Instagram are all in the mix.
Listeners get to know their different but complimentary rap and writing styles on this album. Sometimes one of them takes the lead on a song – other times they bounce off each other. There are other voices and sounds and features on the album too.
Josh’s rap style is often quite playful and influenced by the fact he’s a poet. In album opener “Pres”, he’s a “wordsmith, tinker, crappy young thinker”. There is depth there too.
Sam’s flow is a really natural one and you get a sense of him as a storyteller – particularly on the very moving “Ode to a Friend”.
There’s a lot to like and to get into on this album. It will make you laugh and will likely also move you and make you dance and dream. I can’t recommend it enough!