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Little Tybee – Humorous To Bees
Humorous To Bees - Paper Garden Records
Little Tybee, a thoughtful indie quartet from Atlanta, GA should rank higher in my mind with their debut Humorous To Bees, but comes off flat in spite of their multi-layered indie approach. Filled with delicate, light-as-a-feather melodies, the songs float on by with a pleasing air, tragically crippled by the fact that each does little to differentiate from the last.
Upon first listen, the album kick-off and title-track glides in with a strong sales pitch that gets better with each subsequent, gradually surfacing layer. The tropical percussion offers a unique backdrop on which a repertoire of scattered guitar slides and acoustic strumming generate an easy listening vibe. The accompanying emotive violin strokes are a natural accompaniment. But then they dig in for the next six songs, from “Strong Ears” to “Nero,” with the lead vocals in particular flying in indulgent swooping arcs (think excessive Dr. Dog but more falsetto). True, tracks like “History” feature the odd unconventional solo, and the chords flutter along like something off of Count Your Lucky Stars Records, but these are mostly isolated occurrences.
A handful of standouts do, however, carry the album, most of which occupy the back half. Seven songs in, “Revolutionary” changes the mood with it’s melancholy brand of piano driven indie; everything feels grounded compared with their usual lofty selves, the violin speaking with dark, sorrowful expression. “History” opens with an almost western twang like something from Murder By Death’s bag of tricks. Continuing the run, “The Wind Will Blow You Love” finally scales back the layers, taking advantage of each instrument’s given strength with a much needed reserve, even holding back the single bell chimes for the most impact.
Sadly, the strongest moments make up a minority of the album, meaning they’ll be waking you up rather than guiding you through this audio journey. Humorous To Bees is full of ambition but lacks restraint. Had the band restrained their willingness to try everything at once and peppered the album with flashes of instrumental excitement, Little Tybee would be sitting pretty. Summed up as solid musicianship marred by poor design choices.