When I was 11 my parents sent me to a hellhole of a sleepaway camp where I was miserable (one of the counselors made me eat tomatoes – gross!). It was at that terrible camp where I first heard the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” played over and over, and to this day I have a Pavlovian response to those familiar lite rock folk chords: When I hear them I’m overtaken by homesickness. It’s fitting, then, that Sea of Bees’ sophomore effort – a tearjerker of a breakup album written by Julie Ann Bee in response to the demise of her first relationship after coming out to her friends and family – features a lovely (and much hipper) reinterpretation of the song (simply called “Leaving”) that zeroes in on that same panicky feeling, that same sense of dread. Homesickness and heartbreak, after all, come from that same sad place located in the gut-area.
With sunny-sounding guitars and a sweet, ethereal voice that belies the agony of which she sings, Bee makes Orangefarben a meditation on mind over matter, the importance of gasping “I’ll be fine” again and again, even when it’s clear you’re not. “And I know I shouldn’t think those thoughts/ but I’ve gone ahead and thought those thoughts and I’m fine,” she confesses on “Teeth,” as if convincing herself that the worst may be over, that time might go about its business and provide some relief. And if that grief is never fully eradicated, if she still finds herself longing for the comfort and safety of old attachments (oh, the sad letters I wrote to my parents from summer camp!), then at least the baggage she lugs around with her will be beautiful.