Forest Bees is the moniker of Sheetal Singh, former bassist for noise-pop band The Stratford 4. This solo project was inspired in part by Singh’s desire to explore her identity on her own terms, not those imposed upon her by society. Her new sound profile differs greatly from that of The Stratford 4, a gritty and dissonant spin on shoegaze that is as uncomfortable as it is beautiful.
Of course, Forest Bees is not supposed to make listeners feel at ease. The five-track EP provides an introspective glimpse into genuine personal issues that most people simply don’t wish to address. Singh, however, does not hold back. She unhesitatingly delves into topics such as post-partum depression, spousal neglect, and the struggle of reconciling with her Indian-American ethnicity.
Singh’s initial intention was to incorporate her heritage into her music, but Forest Bees evolved into something more: a memoir of being an older woman of color—nonetheless a wife and mother—in the contemporary music industry. The frustration and trials of this identity are evident in the music. In “Hollow Bones,” arguably the EP’s most chilling track, Singh keens, “I can see in the break of dawn that my best days have gone.” Whether this line references Singh’s musical glory days or her youth, it conveys an extremely powerful sentiment.
Singh’s honeyed, crooning voice reverberates ambiently in a sea of synth-y riffs, Bollywood beats, harsh noise, and smooth guitar. The vocals are sometimes slightly off-key, but this seems to be purposeful. Indeed, this artistic choice puts the listener on edge, drawing the ear in and placing more emphasize on the lyrics—which might otherwise be lost in the background sounds.
Recommended If You Like: Bat for Lashes, Lykke Li, Grimes
Recommended Tracks: 1 (Independence Day), 2 (Hollow Bones), 5 (Dust)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Jaya Chakka on 02/06/2018