Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Bearhug - Bill, Dance, Shiner review
When you get a present, sometimes the best one's that have been handmade and have that sense of craft. That's what I get with the Bearhug's debut - that a lot of love has gone into it and there are genuine choices made about the quality of the music rather than going for the easy out. What I mean by that is that there are moments when this record could soar but instead the band pull back avoiding the obvious hook which makes the whole record far more artful and subtle than your average indie rock band. The strength of the songs is in that subtlety because while some of the songs aren't immediately catchy, they get under your skin. Almost counter intuitively, I woke in the middle of the night with the album's centrepiece When I shake rolling around my head and I couldn't shake it for the next twenty four hours.
The easiest criticism to make of Bearhug is that their influences are too obvious but much like last year's Yuck album, I'm happy to overlook it if the songs are strong. While there's nothing new under sun, refinement, inspiration and good music can propel a band beyond their influences. For Bearhug , the touchstones of Pavement, Sparklehorse, and Built to Spill and loom large on their debut but never overwhelm them. In particular, the lead singer (a guy called Ryan I'm guessing - I downloaded from itunes so no credits and their webpage is unclear) veers from Malkmus to Linkous with ease although the songs that sound closer to Sparklehorse truly shine here.
When I shake rides a rolling indie country vibe complete with BTS guitar freak outs pop shine of Shiner pay homage while being unique in their own way. Opener Over the Hill and Home sound like the slightly sexy children of long lost Pavement and Dinosaur Jnr classics. To be honest, anyone still reeling from the suicide of Mark Linkous will find much to console themselves in the Sparklehorse-like Cherry Red, probably my favourite song here which plays to the band's strengths and floats on a whisper.
As you can imagine, there's nothing here you haven't heard before here in some form but if you like any of the bands mentioned you may find something to love on this record. Recommended (oh and they're from Sydney so give some props to the locals).