JOPLIN, Mo. —
I really struggled with writing this review of Me Like Bees' "The Ides," the band's first full-length album.
I worried that I would be too gushing and effervescent, because I like this album a lot, and because this is a local band poised, I think, to break big. With so much complimentary praise, I worried that this review might not actually help anyone make an objective decision or give anyone any useful information about why it's so good.
Then I remembered the name of my column. There it is, at the top of the printed edition of this column: "Geeked Out."
One of the more modern definitions of a geek is a person who likes what they like passionately and without shame or fear of any repercussions. If there's any place I could gush about "The Ides," it's here.
And if there was any album deserving of the gushing, it's "The Ides." So I'm going to gush big-time about this album. It's an outstanding piece of work that has quickly notched up a high play count in my iTunes.
"The Ides" is so good that it transcends any desire for us to see a local act make it big, just because they are from Joplin. This is a big-time album. It's one of the strongest quality albums I've heard all year, and that includes critical successes such as Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City," Queens of the Stone Age's "...Like Clockwork" and alt-J's "An Awesome Wave."
Let the gushing commence. You've been warned.
Reason for anticipation
Last week's issue of Enjoy dived into how the album was created. Produced by Loveway Records, it is the fruit of "Naked Trees," a song that the band wrote about the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado.
That song really got to me and mine on a personal level. It was upbeat yet heartbreaking, calming yet honest. Instead of relying on beatitudes and country-ballad sentiments, it reminded listeners that it was OK to be a little bit off-kilter about the state of things.
It also featured some brilliant lyrics. Comparisons to the big, bad wolf result in a chorus that's actually French, not sing-song baby talk.
As The Lovely Paula Hadsall said, the lyrics admitted things kinda sucked, and that made the song much more meaningful and relatable. "It's like they know what actually happened," she said.
Because that song was so good, I was excited to hear back then that the process of writing it put the band into a songwriting mode. I was excited to hear a whole album of songs that came from the same place.
When I finally got to listen to "The Ides," it didn't disappoint. The same spirit, songwriting and sagacity in "Naked Trees" can be found in each song.