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New York Cool - Music

Bear in Heaven's
Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Reviewed by Eric Atienza


The bands coming out of Brooklyn having been relying more and more on complexity, layering and electronics. So, Bear in Heaven’s latest album - last year’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth - shouldn’t have been surprising. The album relies on layers of heavy sound, stacked and swirling, adorned with sparse epaulets of guitar and cymbal. It’s a fairly uneven release that promises beautifully weaved interactions between sweeping forceful waves and bits of melody playing along the surface. The record never delivers, however, as these subtle yet essential vessels capsize and are pulled under by the album’s overbearing, monotonous currents.

Songs like “Wholehearted Mess” showcase how good the band can be with its sublime jumble of obscured guitars mixed with nimble, driving beats. It’s a wonderfully layered auditory clash of the concrete and the ethereal. It’s quickly followed by “You Do You” whose sinister undercurrents and twirling synthetic flourishes would have fit comfortably on Portishead’s excellent third album. The front-loading trifecta is completed with “Lovesick Teenagers” which is cavernous and almost breathtakingly expansive.

Beast Rest Forth Mouth’s opening tracks are interesting, entertaining, and engaging. They are also unfortunate. They are well-crafted songs that walk the thin line between experimentalism and pretentiousness. As the record’s runtime slips into its second half, this delicate balance slips as well. Moving further into the meat of the album, the songs begin to get more and more predictable. Tunes that might - when taken individually - play like imaginative explorations of solitude and space-betweens end up blending into a large, indistinguishable mash-up.

“Ultimate Satisfaction” starts this unfulfilling trend but the worst culprit is the six-minute “Dust Cloud,“ a plodding mish-mash of circular melodies determined to go nowhere. Short instances of brilliance repeatedly get stretched and twisted into unrecognizable configurations of boring. The shockwave from this supernova of overwrought and over-thought rhythms echo through the album’s remaining tracks. “Fake Out” tries valiantly to inject life and vitality back into the release, but the record’s back end eventually trudges to an appropriately named “Casual Goodbye” without the nimble hints of pop that made the openers so intriguing.
There’s certainly a lot to like on Bear in Heaven’s second full-length but it’s mostly packed in at the beginning. The band shows the ability to cut the overbearing gusts of noise with collections of sharp hooks, but these are eventually lost and the record spirals aimlessly out of reach.

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