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SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE have been making thrilling and beguiling “collage rock” for the better part of a decade. Across four albums, they’ve stretched the boundaries of genre with songs that often abruptly contort from inviting hooks to menacing bursts of noise and sample-based chaos. With their new EP i’m so lucky, the Philadelphia trio of Zack Schwartz, Corey Wichlin, and Rivka Ravede close the chapter of 2021’s ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH with four tracks that count among the most confident, dynamic, and streamlined music of their careers so far. This is the band at its most lucid and emotionally transparent.
Work on i’m so lucky started during a transitional period in the band members’ lives. In the summer of 2022, Schwartz and Rivka ended their romantic relationship after being together for over 10 years. “For the first three or four months after it ended, it was pretty rough,” says Schwartz. “I don’t know if anybody was sure we would continue doing the band. But then we sorted it out slowly and we just all wanted to get back to work.” As Schwartz was processing the breakup, he and Wichlin took time to finish building their own recording studio inside a Philly vinyl pressing plant. While their last LP had been written and recorded entirely remotely, this new space allowed the band to be in the same room together and flesh out the songs in person this January: an experience that proved to be both productive and cathartic.
The unpredictable and abrasive lead single “Tapeworm” originally came from a skeleton of an old demo that the band reworked in the studio. The track bursts at the seams with screeching guitars and Schwartz’s bloodcurdling yells. “We just wanted to make an overtly heavy track,” says Schwartz. Working and recording in real-time allowed the band not to overthink things in the studio. “We just did it rather than have conversations that would have taken probably weeks in the past to decide what to do,” says Schwartz. “Now that we can record in the same room, we can just do it, discuss it and then figure it out right there. It was a lot easier than sending emails back and forth.”
While SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE splits up writing and vocal duties between their three members, both Schwartz and Ravede penned lyrics that primarily dealt with the dissolution of their romantic partnership. “This past year, the lyrics that I was writing, and I think that Zack was writing too, were about our breakup,” says Ravede. The moody closer “natural devotion 2,” which serves as a sequel to one of their songs from 2016. Underneath the yearning and heartbreak in the track, is a bit of sweetness and understanding, especially when they harmonize, “In the stillness, I’ll remember how you held me when we were together.”
i’m so lucky is the start of a new era for SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE: it’s a marker of their own growth and a hint of what’s yet to come. “This EP feels like a really good transition between ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH and the newer material that we’ve been working on,” says Wichlin. Between the propulsive and frenetic opener “human debenture” and the dread-inducing “really happening,” which is primarily sung by Wichlin, the entire four-song release feels like it captures all sides of the band. These tracks feel alive and unfussy: a document of a band in control and pushing themselves even further. “We’ve been trying to make some of the newer stuff less maximalist and just focus on what we can accomplish live,” says Schwartz. “It’s not that these songs are simpler: They’re just different and have more space, more room to breathe.”