Bear's Den - So That You Might Hear Me - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Bear's Den - So That You Might Hear Me

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2019-04-26
Bear's Den - So That You Might Hear Me
Bear's Den - So That You Might Hear Me

Not too long ago, Bear’s Den was basking in the glow of their overnight success. Formed in 2012, the band’s 2014 debut Islands earned the London-based trio instant accolades and sold oodles (thanks in no small part to a string of radio-ready singles and a handful of high-profile festival appearances). But then, well, things got a little bit goofy.

First, the band went from a trio down to a duo (following the amicable departure of founding member Joey Haynes), and then they swapped their banjos and guitars for drum machines and new-wave-inspired patches on their synth-heavy second album (Red Earth & Pouring Rain), a move that threw a good portion of their fanbase (and most critics) into a tizzy.

To the band’s credit, despite their early success, it was hard not to feel like Bear’s Den was a bit late to the folk-rock-revival party. And rather than double down on a sound that was already waning, the band wisely opted for reinvention with Red Earth & Pouring Rain, a move that, with the benefit of hindsight, was not only successful but also necessary; especially if the duo had any hope of ever stepping out from the Mumford & Son’s shaped box their debut had placed them in.

Doubling down on its predecessor's ‘80s synthpop leanings, the band's third full-length So That You Might Hear Me sounds like Bear's Den picked up right where they left off. The album-opening “Hiding Bottles” is a mid-tempo rocker that finds singer Andrew Davie returning to the brazenly honest lyrical approach of the band’s debut while the synth-laden “Fossils” and “Fuel On The Fire” dip into the same territory that Red Earth & Pouring Rain occupied. Meanwhile, the soulful “Laurel Wreath” and the horn-heavy “Evangeline” are late-album highlights while “Blankets Of Sorrow” is a fittingly solemn last chapter to what is easily the band’s most focused album yet.

Davie and his partner Kevin Jones reportedly spent a year crafting So That You Might Hear Me’s ten tracks, and it shows as every second of the album feels deliberate. While the cold, atmospheric production choices are still in place, they sound much less hamfisted, and Jones and Davie both sound that much more comfortable with the band’s overall sound and direction.

It might just be as simple as this: So That You Might Hear Me is a leaner, meaner, more focused version of its somewhat bloated predecessor (Red Earth & Pouring Rain’s twelve tracks clocked in at over an hour - sheesh). You were either on board with the Bear’s Den 2.0, or you weren’t. If you were, then the band’s latest album serves up another batch of forward-thinking, heartfelt songs, and if you weren’t, then there’s probably little here that will remind you of the band’s debut. Either way, it’s pretty clear that Bear’s Den intends to forge ahead, with or without you.

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