“Bees” – Jonah

On the one hand, a peaceful, reverberant pop song, on the other hand, a rousing sing-along of near anthemic proportions. How do they do it? I’m guessing it has something to do with being from Portland. It seems they know how to do just about anything out there.

One thing that catches my ear towards the beginning is that double drum beat (0:10) that launches us from the introduction into the first verse. Kind of snaps you to attention, counteracting the “Strawberry Fields”-ish tranquility of the opening measures. The verse features an almost nursery-rhyme-like pattern of overlapping descending lines that are reinforced by a wordless vocal section with a different melody built onto the same simple chord progression as the verse. In the second verse, note how the lyrics scan with gratifying precision—listen, for instance, to how the rhythm of the melody on the phrase “destroy all the evidence” (0:40) aligns with how one would speak those same words. The incisive chorus, in turn, gives us a melody that at once slows down and stretches out (expanding through the entire octave, in fact), which creates that sing-along feeling. And yet after that stirring refrain, listen to how we are left on an unresolved note (1:17)—a sly and effective trick that adds depth and pushes our ear to “require” the next verse. Which of course Jonah is happy to provide.

“Bees” is a song from the album The Wonder and the Thrill, the quartet’s third, set for release next month.