“Lovers and Quarrels” by Kwala Bee | On the Record

words by Michael Todd and Chance Solem-Pfeifer

When asked what kind of venue he prefers, Adam Roberts hints at the great hopes he has for his band Kwala Bee.

“I want to play Madison Square Garden.”

Equally as ambitious is the Omaha group’s debut album, Lovers and Quarrels. The 12-song release draws on a myriad of influences, from The Beach Boys’ three-part vocals to The Beatles' guitar tones and shapeshifting song structures. Tracks celebrate school being out, follow the narrative of a runaway radio host and describe a sky on fire.

From the hand-built studio housed in Roberts’ garage, the quartet (also including brothers Alexander and Nik Carlson, and Cameron Mayfield) enjoyed limitless time to record a layered, harmony-driven album. Lyrically, the album attempts to tackle issues of war, love and life, and the music is a direct descendant of the 1960s. With more technology at their disposal, though, Kwala Bee offers more than just a four-track recording.

To reach out and touch the pedigree of their classic pop/rock influences, Kwala Bee enlisted Doug Sax, a veteran Los Angeles-based engineer who’s worked with Pink Floyd and The Who, to master Lovers and Quarrels.

What the album misses seems to the product of intensity and oversight. The harmonies are so constant, the influences palpable, and the production effort so evident that Lovers and Quarrels loses sight of the details that make songs resonate. Simplicity, focus and diversity are caught in the undertow of a band attempting to showcase everything in their repertoire and not the sweet spot of a young band finding its stride.

Listen here for the full album review of Lovers and Quarrels:

Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor, and Chance Solem-Pfeifer is HN's staff writer. They look forward to next week's review of the new Shawn Holt and the Teardrops album. Reach them respectively at michaeltodd@hearnebraska.org and chancesp@hearnebraska.org.