On Eight Houses, She Keeps Bees — vocalist-guitarist Jessica Larrabee and drummer Andy LaPlant — offer a master class in stripped-down garage rock. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes, this lean album is dense in ferocity. From the opening moments of “Feather Lighter,” the songs of Eight Houses build like a forest fire, from the glowing embers of “Feather Lighter to the raging flames of “Greasy Grass.”
“Owl” has a harrowing guitar hook, almost fugue-like in the way it turns inside itself so simply. Although that exact combination of notes never resurfaces, there are echoes of it everywhere in songs like “Raven” and “Feather Lighter.”
Fellow Brooklynite Sharon Van Etten, an unabashed fan of Larrabee’s vocals, sings backup on “Owl” and “Is What It Is.” There’s an uncanny similarity to Van Etten in the way Larrabee sings — softly and low down but with subtle urgency — and the way the keyboards build are reminiscent of moments from Van Etten’s Are We There. The most quietly intimate moments in Eight Houses carry as much weight as the measures that crest with unwavering rage. The contrast heightens the album’s intensity, whether soft and low or loud and fierce.