Beast Rest Forth Mouth
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
“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.