Album Reviews

Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool

(Dead Oceans) UK release date: 2 April 2012

Brooklyn-based outfit Bear In Heaven decided upon promoting their new album, I Love You, It’s Cool, to take a different route from the norm. They streamed it. Now that doesn’t sound all that innovative, does it? But the stream was not any ordinary stream. The version of the album stream on the band’s website was actually 400,000% longer, spanning 2,700 hours.

The band said the stream was a “comment on the current state of album promotion, hype cycles, countdowns and all the marketing ploys that we accept as a reality of existing within an internet age”. It certainly succeeds in that respect, while also working as their own unique promotion ploy at the same time.

Yet, while it’s all well and good to come up with a witty gimmick such as an extended album stream, it sometimes overshadows whether the album itself is actually any good or not. And Bear In Heaven have a lot to live up to after their second LP, 2009’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth, was well received by critics and fans alike. So, how does the quartet’s third effort hold up?

It starts off promisingly with the glacial synths and soothing tone of opening song Idle Heart offset by a distinctive crashing drum beat. It’s the sort of expansive synth-led track listeners have come to expect from Bear In Heaven. The Reflection Of You, the first single from the LP, is more of the same, with a sporadic synth line underlying a frantic array of whirring sounds. There’s something undoubtedly satisfying about the four-piece’s subtle concoction of synths and lo-fi buzz, which makes their music so enchanting.

Sinful Nature is another highlight with stuttering synths complemented by a weaving guitar hook that is almost hypnotic. Leader singer – and the band’s founder – Jon Philpot gives the song a menacing edge with his brooding vocal delivery as he sings: “Out of thin air and into your own universe / You’re letdown by God/ You’re let down by boring strangers.” It’s quickly followed by Cool Light, an unremarkable and wishy-washy track destined to be forgotten the moment it ends.

The second half of the album begins to wane somewhat, with the constant sprawling synths and fuzzy electronics not always hitting the mark. World Of Freakout features a droning synth bed that is both dark and disorientating, but it fails to leave any lasting impression. While the rumbling beat and sporadic synth on Warm Water – much like the song title itself – is just plain dull. Space Remains sees things pick up again towards the end of the album, with tribal beats and a hurried chaotic energy setting it apart from anything else on the album.

And that’s part of the problem with Bear In Heaven’s third LP – they just don’t take enough risks. Barring the odd one or two tracks – including the understated and charming closer, Sweetness & Sickness – there is very little differentiation between songs on the album. It’s no wonder the band were able to break the album down so comprehensively into a long drawn out version for the promotional stream.

Too many tracks consist of synths that are one dimensional and lack any killer hook, with few songs having the same impact as Lovesick Teenagers or pop magnetism of You Do You from their second album. Overall, I Love You, It’s Cool is a solid, but unspectacular, return from Bear In Heaven. If only the album had been as daring as the marketing campaign that launched it.

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Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool