We Brave Bee Stings and All

Thao Nguyen

May 1, 2008

(Kill Rock Stars)


Thao Nguyen appreciates simple pleasures. Charming melodies, pleasant, well-executed guitar riffs, a banjo here and there, and free hot pants from her record label, to name a few. She keeps it au naturale on We Brave Bee Stings and All, her first album on KRS. Before you reduce her to the Vietnamese Cat Power or Leslie Feist, listen for tinges of Sade's wispy-smooth vocals and a blither brand of Indigo Girls folk. Nguyen also likes a little beatboxing here and there-something you wouldn't hear from the aforementioned. Listen closer and her covertly cutting lyrics will get into your head. On the triumphant "Beat (Health, Life and Fire)," she sings, I wear him like a habit / In the lining of my jacket, a phrase that somehow brings to mind images of nuns, or dismemberment. "Bag of Hammers" is infectiously upbeat and happens to be about causing serious structural damage to a house. In fact, nearly every song on WBBSA dispenses enough blissful wickedness to force you out of dreary hibernation. -Christine Vilar

Magazine Section: