Expectations can do nasty things to a band, but what they do to
fans is even worse. Take, for example, Bee Hives, the
B-sides and outtakes disc from red-hot Canadian indie rockers
Broken Social Scene. Expectations have transformed what would
normally be a nice addendum to the band’s stunning 2002
breakthrough, You Forgot It In People, into a scorned and
unwanted stepchild.

Oh, there are problems, to be sure. With only nine tracks on the
album, why leave already existing B-sides (“Do the 95”)
on the table? Filling out the tracklist with some live cuts might
also have been nice. Also, too many of the tracks lean towards the
ambient post-rock of the band’s early days. Tracks like
“Weddings” and “Time=Cause” aren’t
terrible, but they’re not particularly stirring either.

But minor quibbles aside, there are some things here for fans to
get excited about. “Market Fresh” is a pastoral
acoustic number that could’ve hung with any of the down-tempo
tracks on You Forgot It, and “Backyards” is a
cluttered, wistful landscape. Even some of the instrumental tracks
on Bee Hives, while not as successful as the band’s songs,
manage to approximate the sublime, nostalgic moods You Forgot It
was so capable of evoking. “Da Da Da Da,” despite a
plodding start, benefits from a heavy rhythm section, and
“Hallmark” buzzes along potently.

The most interesting track on Bee Hives is the remake of
“Lover’s Spit,” the pounding, archaic guitar hymn
from You Forgot It. With the help of vocalist Leslie Feist,
the band transforms the track into a stately piano ballad.
It’s an interesting read of one of the band’s best
tracks, but it doesn’t come close to replacing the anthemic
grandeur of the original.

Bee Hives cleans out the cupboard in order to capitalize
on the band’s growing popularity, but that doesn’t make
it worthless. Just set aside those expectations until the next
full-length album.

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