Bear In Heaven finds an interesting middle ground between audible anguish and head bopping beats on Beast Rest Forth Mouth
, a rhythmic collection of wiped out brain spasms set to Brooklyn's finest computerized guitars. At times like a slightly more archaic brit-pop band from the 80's, others like a futuristic phantasm, the spread of BRFM
is impressive and appropriate; the suggestive titular allusion to the points of the compass suggests it should be a journey to the corners of the four members minds and back. Don't forget your driving gloves, we're going on an adventure with this one.
2009 has been the year of sonic deviation, from Animal Collective's incessant percussive rambling, to The Dirty Projectors schizophrenic garbled tempos. I'd say Bear In Heaven fits the mold of the preoccupations of the year, without any forced "faking." Like "Ultimate Satisfaction" with its spitfire beat, or the vocal permutations of "Dust Cloud." They are also part retrospective; a gritty falsetto over bubble bass akin to Spandau Ballet or keytar music like on "Lovesick Teenagers." Often times the latter wins out, even when teetering on the edge. Bear In Heaven doesn't take too many risks with the weird, the unknown, and the alternative, preferring to stick with their typical washed out weird 80's wave made in the aughts.
Personally I prefer the more experimental, grueling Bear. The unrecognizable is much more prevalent in the first few tracks, especially "Beast In Peace" (still one of my favorites after multiple listens). The less risky style is still there, the vocals are mixed the same, the melodies familiar and catchy. But the build of the beat, especially the leap into the prechorus and the rattling drums on the refrain, is something of a sensational set of moments, like a kid waking up on a birthday, or the sun coming out after a storm. It's moments like this that I look for, and rarely find on records (of any decade). Moments that warrant millions of re listens, to examine how they work. The perfect (and probably unattainable) moment excites the blood flow, blow the mind. I could compare the perfect feeling to a lot of things, but I think you get the picture.
All bands strive for that moment, the perfect turn (in their own way), and only a chosen few come close. Bear In Heaven comes REALLY close to being perfect in that moment. Of course this is one isolated incident, on one song, but right out the gate, it sets a high note of excitement that I think they execute pretty well throughout the rest of their mental fuzz. There are a few other moments like it too. But remember, you can't have an album full of these moments; it'd be like over saturation, the law of diminishing returns, each successive peak a little less impressive or affecting. The best acts know that you need build ups and let downs to craft a perfect listening experience. I've got to say, Bear In Heaven definitely gets this concept. BRFM
is a sprawling adventure for sure; just one with a definite compass. You won't get lost, but you'll have a hell of a time. -joe puglisi
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MP3: Bear in Heaven - "Beast In Peace" (Beast Rest Forth Mouth)
Bear In Heaven on Myspace