Album Reviews

Bearsuit – OH:IO

(Fantastic Plastic) UK release date: 10 September 2007


How to describe Bearsuit? Well if you�ve ever had to wear one I guess the name might make some kind of sense. Try wearing a bear suit outside a supermarket (do it for charity and not cos you�re some kind of fiddler) in the height of summer. It�s supposed to be fun, and it is, but it is also hugely claustrophobic, surreal and at time hyper real. If you don�t get sexually harassed for at least half of the day then you�re really not doing that bear suit any justice.

This album then, if you�ll follow the similes for just a second, is fun, claustrophobic, and at times it�s surreal too. As for the sexual harassment, well you�ll have to look elsewhere for that. If you�re looking for it though, I�d suggest it�s not going to be considered harassment.

Twee is not how the band wants to be described. In a recent interview they claimed they�d got better at playing their instruments and got rid of “all the twee shit”. To a degree this may be true but no matter how hard Bearsuit claim to have left certain elements of themselves behind there is little doubt that twee lives at the heart of this band.

It�s there in the school band feel of their recent single More Soul Than Wigan Casino (which incidentally has more soul than a Wigan Casino). At first the twin vocals and rushed horns seem a little amateurish to say the least. When everything (including a charming twittering flute) is crammed into the chorus it seems almost as if the band is throwing too much into the mix.

This is nothing however, compared to the orchestration to be found on Steven Fucking Spielberg. Initially reminiscent of Stereolab, this tune throws everything at the wall and all of it sticks. On first listen it sounds throw away, and as if it has been chucked together in a matter of minutes, so it comes as something of a shock to find out that this track took almost a year to put together.

Trying to pin Bearsuit down is pretty hard because for all their cutesy dual vocals and amateurish sounding approach they can be equally frenzied like an unprovoked attack from Rod Hull and Emu. Check out Dinosaur Heart�s rampant change of gears for example. It finds Bearsuit switching from nursery rhyme to Melt Banana style chaos and back again in a matter of seconds. Hark! The Feral Children pulls a similar trick changing pace like a particularly schizophrenic Cardiacs tune while also managing to win your heart with its big eyed child like naivety.

Look A Bleached Coral Faced Crow With Jewels For Eyes finds the band winsomely asking why you might cry over a girl in the style of a particularly apathetic Graham Coxon, whilst Foxy Boxer shows what the band does best as they head off into space rock territory. This being Bearsuit though it sounds a little like Queens of The Stone Age playing a kids party while on a particularly nasty sugar high. A perfect exercise in call and response, it leaves you desperate to see the band live because translating OH:IO in to a live setting will inevitably be an utter riot.

This is an album that to many will sound like an unmitigated mess. To these ears though it is the sound of unbridled joy, the kind you feel when a long lost love re-enters your life. It�s a feeling we could do with more of, grab yourself a Bearsuit. Four stars are deserved.


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More on Bearsuit
Bearsuit – The Phantom Forest
Bearsuit – OH:IO