Bumblebeez / Bumblebeez 81

The Printz

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Bumblebeez 81 (previously known as the Bumblebeez) make their U.S. debut with The Printz, a combination of the Australian EP White Printz and the U.K. EP Red Printz. On their own, each of the EPs had a goofy, rambling feel that didn't wear out its welcome over a handful of songs, but just slapping the two EPs together makes this "album" more annoying than playful, and more than a little bit difficult to listen to. Both White Printz and Red Printz had an alarmingly high noise-to-signal ratio, with a few good songs sandwiched between a lot of noodly, go-nowhere experimental tracks. That problem is doubled on The Printz, meaning that there's twice as much wading through tracks like "Get Dressed" and "Vampires" to get to the good bits. Bumblebeez 81's more rock-oriented songs, such as "Let's Go" and "Step Back" -- which sounds like Stereopathetic Soul Manure-era Beck fronting the Stooges and recording the results on a four-track -- make the most of their lo-fi meets digital cut-and-paste aesthetic. But when Bumblebeez 81 delve deeper into their love for rap, they tend to stumble, whether it's Chris Collona or his sister Vila on the mike. "Bambino," "Brooklyn," and the other tracks that Chris raps on tend to be shouty and repetitive, like a mix of all the grating aspects of Beck and the Beastie Boys. Vila's tracks aren't as irritating, but "Microphone Diseases" is formless and she's just not strong enough of a vocal presence to carry off "Vila Attack" or "Rappa." The songs on The Printz began as sonic doodles that the Collona siblings did as a lark; many of these tracks probably should've stayed on their hard drives. The band's best song is still their debut single, "Pony Ride," a tossed-off but catchy ditty that's equal parts lo-fi blues, garage rock, and hip-hop. This song and the quirky quasi-ballad "Come Ova" suggest that maybe Bumblebeez 81 could one day deliver an album of garbled pop genius, but this isn't it. Compiling the best tracks from each of their previous releases to make one solid EP would've been a better introduction to the band than The Printz is; with any luck, Bumblebeez 81 will tighten up their sound on their first actual full-length album.

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