Expect to hear a lot more from this Brooklyn band in the coming months.
Mike Diver 2010-03-22
Let me break it down for you. New album arrives, from a Band You’ve Never Heard Of. You give it a second’s thought, assessing it on its artwork and a few quotes cut-and-pasted onto the one-sheet. You file away as a Maybe, But Nothing More. Perhaps if time allows you’ll dig it out, recommend it to a few friends. You won’t publish a review proper because… Well, it’s a Band You’ve Never Heard Of. Who’s going to care? Pitchfork, sure – and they have. But this isn’t Pitchfork.
But Bear In Heaven aren’t 99% of the bands falling into the Maybe, But Nothing More category. Thanks to a few choice tips from South By Southwest-attending sorts, Beast Rest Forth Mouth found its way to the top of this writer’s own possible reviews pile – it might not (yet) have the specialist show radio support required to qualify coverage of most Bands You’ve Never Heard Of, but so trusted are the ‘tastemakers’ (ergh) in question that a proper listen was necessary. And another. Then a transfer to the iPod (only 4GB now, so it’s keeping some fine company). And another. And you get the idea.
The Brooklyn-based four-piece’s on-paper purveyance of psychedelic-pop isn’t a particularly revelatory stylistic route for an as-new band to be taking – after all, we’ve had albums from Yeasayer and The Ruby Suns this year, and the new MGMT record is just around the corner. But Bear In Heaven’s locked-tight, Krautrock-kissed grooves, insistent and oddly proggy vocals – vocalist Jon Philpot is evocative of Yes’ Jon Anderson – and tension-tuning architectural qualities are aspects of this ten-track LP that actually, unexpectedly, set it some distance ahead of the aforementioned outfits.
They’ve Yeasayer’s playfulness, MGMT’s way with a deceptively catchy melody, and The Ruby Suns’ penchant for layering on an infectiously happy haziness that keeps the listener coming back. And the combination is exquisitely managed, with the whole never at risk of coming apart where pieces of the puzzle don’t quite fit cleanly. And BRFM is an album proper, too, perfectly sequenced to maintain interest and using motifs both noticeably similar and subtly familiar to carry the listener from one track to the next, and onwards. A metaphorical flock of birds in Lovesick Teenagers, for example, returns in album closer Casual Goodbye.
Let me cut to the chase: expect to hear a lot more about Bear In Heaven over the coming months.