Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth

by Pete Sykes Rating:6 Release Date:2010-04-05

Bear in Heaven are another of those Brooklyn-based bands who make subtle, effortlessly hip, vaguely unusual music of the type that found favour with critics last year. Like fellow Brooklynites Animal Collective, BiH - led by John Philpot, lead singer and guitarist - roam the landscape of synth-led psych-pop, but with less urgency and wide-eyed excitement than Avey Tare & Panda Bear's crew. Beast Rest Forth Mouth has a languid, lazy feel, which gives it a certain amount of charm, but this asset also proves to be the record's undoing - it seems unfocused and, a handful of tracks excepted, it drifts by without fully lodging itself in your consciousness.

Many of the songs succeed admirably at establishing mood and texture, but once they have done this, they seem unsure of where to go. A case in point is 'Drug A Wheel', which boasts a shambling drum pattern and a dark, earthy bassline, creating a wonderfully sinister, eerie ambience. But the basic verse structure ambles along for two and a half minutes, without ever developing into anything to get excited about (such as a chorus) and then resolves into a warm, electronic buzz - which sounds great, but would sound better if anything notable had happened beforehand. 'Deafening Love' is similarly dark in tone, but again it's missing any moments that stand out from the faintly gloomy dirge (it moves at a snail's pace, like most of the album) that makes up the bulk of the track. Philpot's voice doesn't help - it's a rather bland, characterless tenor of a type all too familiar to fans of American alternative music. As if in recognition of this fact, it's mixed irritatingly low, so low that you can't make out a word that's being sung.

There are things to enjoy here. 'Beast in Peace' is a diverting opening salvo, its best moment coming in the breakdown of tribal drumming. Classic Krautrock is the inspiration on the enjoyable if unremarkable 'Dust Cloud'; 'Wholehearted Mess', meanwhile, is anything but - in fact it's a splendidly controlled but energetic slice of Deerhunter-style psych-pop. 'Lovesick Teenagers', released as an album teaser last autumn, is the best song on here, its dreamy, otherworldly chorus proving surprisingly anthemic and hummable. Crucially, it doesn't outstay its welcome, ending abruptly, and leaving you wanting more. If only the rest of the material on Beast Rest Forth Mouth had a similar focus. Instead, the listener will have to wade through a fair amount of frustrating filler to discover a few moments of musical satisfaction.

Pete Sykes

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