The Spirit of the Beehive have a fascination with contrast. The cover of their 2015 EP YOU ARE ARRIVED (but you’ve been cheated) juxtaposes the rare beauty of an urban sewer canal during sunset, with a washed-up body of a young woman sprawled peacefully beside some floating trash. The album that followed, 2017’s pleasure suck, explored the sick irony of pain brought on from overindulging in bliss. Its first track featured the line, “pleasure sucks the life out of everyone,” and the record’s erratic nature—spontaneous shifts from flowery psych-pop into dissonant passages of grimy distortion—evoked the discordant effect frequent substance use has on one’s psyche.
Hypnic Jerks, the Philly quintet’s third full-length and second for Tiny Engines, sounds like, as frontman Zack Schwartz puts it, “the state between wakefulness and sleep.” It’s named after the involuntary muscle spasms that can happen right as someone begins dozing off, a perfect feeling to compare the album’s drowsy yet restless character to. Unlike the spiraling momentum of pleasure suck, The Spirit of the Beehive took a more grounded approach with Hypnic Jerks, though the ground they’re standing on is equally otherworldly. Dreamy is a fitting adjective, but the songs never fully slip into the peaceful yet backgrounded character of dream-pop.