The Bumblebee King is the seventh full length record from LA pop artist Glowbug. This solo project from Daniel Anderson first crossed my path with the scorching track “Live From Hell”, which blended hooky pop mentalities with nods to piercing blackened death metal in the vocals. The thing about this blend that really grabbed me was despite how absolutely nasty the screamed vocals were, the track itself’s vibe stayed bubbly, fun, and at its core, a pop track digestible for people who might not have any screaming in their music libraries.
Fast forward two years; I had kept Glowbug in my radar and enjoyed the followup album Vampire Empire quite a bit but couldn’t find any real progression in the sound. That’s when the latest release dropped, The Bumblebee King is an amazing eclectic record clearly made by someone who loves all styles of music for people of the same mindset. To me, the more different styles that Anderson injects into his releases the better, as somehow Glowbug manages to never lose its easily listenable pop mentality.
The Bumblebee King opens on the track “Friendly Apocalypse”, a bouncing bopper of a track garnished with disco string passages and piloted by a seventies style electric piano. The vocals on “Friendly Apocalypse” seem to have more range than I remember previous Glowbug releases ranging from a pleasant high baritone to the signature falsetto, lending the track an ear pleasing carousel of a melody. After “Friendly Apocalypse” peaks with a funk fueled guitar solo Glowbug picks up speed and rips into the track “Black Hole”.
“Black Hole” to me, is the root template for all the fun to be had throughout The Bumblebee King. A quick and dancy duet where Anderson’s vocal delivery parrots new wave styles reminiscent of Talking Heads and huge horns create layers of melody amidst the synths and singing. “Black Hole” blends four decades of dance music influence into three and a half minutes of groovy music worship.
There are no metal styled vocals on The Bumblebee King until the fourth track: “Modern Life”, and I was concerned that Glowbug had traded them away in exchange for retro keyboards and dancier rhythms. Both the chords and song structure in “Modern Life” come booming in creating classic Glowbug vibes reminiscent of my introduction to the band “Live From Hell”. These screamed vocals aren’t isolated to “Modern Life” either, and are peppered through the remaining album creating a dynamic edge wherever they appear. The most extreme example of stylistic dynamic created by vocal delivery comes in the track “On The Bright Side” where Anderson punctuates an Oingo Boingo styled vocal chop with single shrieked words. This roller coaster of style perks up a listener’s ears before sliding back into a mellow synth pop chorus. The ability to seamlessly slide between these different deliveries without creating jarring dissonance on this record is what sets Glowbug above the mid-00’s synth pop bands like The Limousines or Stepdad whom I would have initially grouped them with.
I love watching a band progress their sound about as much as I hate watching a group lose sight of what made them special, it’s a fine line and a high standard and Glowbug walks it perfectly. I love how dancy and listenable this record was, I love the nods to Anderson’s influences especially embracing the wacky vocal deliveries of the new-wave bands of old. On The Bumblebee King Anderson takes his sound and adds to it until it can’t hold any more, then proceeds to seamlessly blend all the sounds together until a listener couldn’t imagine them being separate entities. It is a bold and daring record that somehow presents itself as fun and easily accessible, and I can’t wait to show it to all my different cliques of friends.
Glowbug‘s new album The Bumblebee King was released on February 26th.
Stand out tracks: Black Hole, Modern Life, Evel Knievel