Album: Honeybee Table at the Butterfly Feast
Artist: Teen Suicide
Label: Run For Cover Records
Non-Airable Tracks: complaining in dreams.
Description: After what felt like a lifetime to me, Teen Suicide is finally back with what I think is their third(?) studio album. Although on paper this is the first Teen Suicide album since 2016’s It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir the Honeypot (a classic in my opinion), the band’s core member Sam Ray has kept extremely busy with four records under the name American Pleasure Club (which is kinda Teen Suicide?), another four under Ricky Eat Acid, and two archival compilation albums for Teen Suicide and his other band Julia Brown. As a high schooler, I ate up every single Sam Ray release. The Julia Brown b-sides album is possibly my most listened to album of all time, and this new record makes me feel an excitement for new music that I haven’t felt in quite a while!
Honeybee Table comes to us at a perfect time because, as a die-hard fan of Ray’s work, I feel as if his impact on the indie scene has been missed so far this decade. Older songs like Haunt Me (x3) and No, The Moon have remained relevant through social media, but it’s been about four years now since we’ve heard a full-length record devoted to the lo-fi indie sound Teen Suicide helped popularize in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. Although Ray’s work hasn’t enjoyed the same mainstream success as other prominent artists from the genre like Car Seat Headrest and Alex G, his music has proven to be much more influential. You can watch CSH, Alex G, even newer bands like Snail Mail and Surf Curse on late night TV, but I’m confident that none of these artists would be as popular (or even sound like they do) if it were not for early Teen Suicide records like DC Snuff Film and I Will Be My Own Hell… After reading into Sam’s health issues during the making of this record, I understand why this record took the time that it did to release, and it surprises me that there is even a new Teen Suicide album at all.
As a whole, Honeybee Table isn’t too different from the last Teen Suicide album: long tracklist, extremely eclectic sound palette, and structurally a bit messy. However, partially because of the shorter run time, this new record feels much more cohesive and gratifying as a front-to-back listening experience. This is a great album to go outside and take a walk to
Production-wise, this album is not as sonically aggressive as previous albums, but the songs do still maintain a lo-fi noise pop identity while going for more lush and dynamic sounds. Songs like Coyote and Groceries make me feel like I am in heaven. Cleaner, more indie-folk centered songs like I Will Always Be In Love With You and Unwanted Houseguest put a spotlight on how interesting of a songwriter Ray is. These acoustic cuts sometimes feel blissful, and at other times feel like the most intense tracks on the record. Fans of Teen Suicide’s older, edgier records like Waste Yrself will definitely appreciate the very noisy and very emo tracks Death Wish and You Can’t Blame Me.
Teen Suicide have always, in one way or another, been a band with some really tight pop songs. Haunt Me, All the Lonely Nights in Your Life, and This is Heaven & I’d Die for It should all be top 40 hits in my opinion. I wasn’t too big on the sample-based Indie Pop songs off of Big Joyous Celebration, but Ray has continued evolving this sound with songs like Get High; Breathe Underwater and Complaining In Dreams to the point where these are two of my favorites on the record! I also love how sonically beautiful the instrumental tracks like You Were My Star and All of Us Steady Dying are. My only objection across the 16 tracks is Violence Violence, which has a hauntingly beautiful middle section reminiscent of Ray’s Ricky Eat Acid work, but the noisy electronics and production feel too messy and uninteresting for me to really want to return to this track.
Overall, this is a sick album that I know I will be returning to for years to come! While other bands from the 2010’s Bandcamp lo-fi indie boom have moved to become tamer in style and more marketable, Teen Suicide remains as exciting as they were 10 years ago while becoming more sonically adventurous with each release.
SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, who put out a really sick record last year!
Contemporary Movement era-Duster
somewhere between Guided By Voices and Animal Collective
get high; breathe underwater (#3)
Reviewer’s Name: George Romero
Date of Review: 9/10/2022