Release Date: Apr 3, 2012
Record label: Hometapes
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Another outstanding entry from the electro-enclave, Brooklyn-based Bear in Heaven’s I Love You, It’s Cool is a slick ride—harder to brush off than the “aw, shucks” title suggests. A tug towards the dancefloor, “The Reflection of You” pairs a towering wall of percussion with ’80s-influenced synths, crashing like waves against the shore. What are we to make of the album’s oversized ambitions? “Freak out!” leadman Jon Philpot demands on “World of Freakout.” Don’t mind if I do.
Jon Philpot, Joe Stickney and Adam Wills had maintained certain obscurity before they released the critically acclaimed Beast Rest Forth Mouth in 2009. Since then, however, the Brooklyn trio—known artistically as Bear In Heaven—has endured a whirlwind of change, playing some 200 shows, fine-tuning their live show and catering to bigger crowds in the process. Therefore, it’s only natural for anticipation to heighten for the band’s subsequent album, I Love You, It’s Cool, which treads the same path as the aforementioned Forth Mouth as a danceable medley of surreal jams evoking the festive spirit of 1980s pop, plodding along with a refreshing exuberance.
Bear in Heaven have been kicking around the Brooklyn scene for the better part of a decade now. They made a couple of really good Kraut-heavy records that few people heard (2004's Tunes Nextdoor to Songs EP, 2007's Red Bloom of the Boom), and another that garnered them long overdue accolades and an audience, 2009's superb, yet slightly more conventional Beast Rest Forth Mouth. .
Bear in Heaven’s main gimmick is that they don’t have one. They’re just three unassuming, regular dudes living in Brooklyn who make grandiose, widescreen synth epics in 1080p. They’re as workman as a trio doing their best to max out your computer speakers with waves of Helm’s Deep bombast can be considered “workman.” They arrived very nearly fully formed on 2007’s Red Bloom of the Boom, and perfected their sound on 2009’s still great Beast Rest Forth Mouth.
Bear In HeavenI Love You, It's Cool[Hometapes; 2012]By Chris Bosman; April 13, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGHas it really only been two and a half years since Beast Rest Forth Mouth? Surprisingly, yes. But the wait for Bear in Heaven's third record, released earlier this month with the fantastically blasé title I Love You, It's Cool, has somehow dragged on for much longer. Some of that is because Bear In Heaven didn't play the blogosphere game.
For a band that spends more than two years between studio albums, Bear in Heaven don't seem to have hang-ups about fucking around with the final result. This has worked out well for them: 2009's breakthrough Beast Rest Forth Mouth was the result of streamlining the proggy excesses of Red Bloom of the Boom into something familiar, wholly of the moment, and yet impossible to pin down-- you knew some combination of "indie," "rock," "synth," "dance," and "electro" should work, and yet not a single hyphenate stuck satisfactorily. A year later, the band commissioned artists ranging from High Places to Justin Broadrick for Beast Rest Forth Mouth Remixed, which defied all expectations associated with indie rock remix records by actually being pretty good.
Was I really the only one, back in 2009, to whom those promises heaped upon Bear in Heaven’s second album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, went unfulfilled? Those supposed captivating evocations of space and volume, affectations that built inevitably towards a gathering sense of ominousness and a constant suggestiveness of miscellanies of a grand cinematic nature were, for the most part, lost on me. Besides, if that was what Bear in Heaven was more or less aiming at, I could’ve just as well popped in Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration or Music for the Masses. While I certainly felt at odds with everyone else when it came to Beast Rest, it doesn’t really matter anymore: the Brooklyn trio — now sans recently departed member Sadek Bazarra, who still managed to inadvertently name the new album and provide its Richard Corben meets abstract expressionism meets late-80s mass-media pop cover — has always been characterized by an impressionably knowing appropriation of the New Romantic and synth pop cues of the 1980s.
French electro-pop wizard Anthony Gonzalez and his band M83 broke through to the mainstream in a big way with last year’s fantastic Hurry Up, I’m Dreaming, a double album designed to play as an intimate soundtrack to each individual listener’s Life As Cinema. The new record by Brooklyn trio Bear in Heaven, I Love You, It’s Cool, functions on a similar aesthetic, though where M83’s operatic rock shoots for the (distant, intergalactic) moon, Bear in Heaven wraps its romantic tunes in an atmospheric gauze. If M83 obsess over capturing the thrills of teenage melodrama, Bear in Heaven focus on the twenty-something version of those feelings, a bit more muted but still potent in their own way.
Months in advance of the release of I Love You, It's Cool, Brooklyn trio Bear in Heaven posted streaming audio of the new album in its entirety on their website. The catch was that they slowed the audio significantly, stretching the songs into a continuous 247 hour file, their upbeat synthy pop songs sounding more like the icy ambient drones of Gas or Tim Hecker when played 400,000-percent slower. The stream came off more tongue-in-cheek when the band released a conjoining video mockumentary absurdly positing that they played the entire three-month track live.
With a tendency to steer the avant-garde as if it were a colloquial language, for a minute it seemed as if Bear in Heaven were ordained to be the kind of act that would continue to follow an audacious path. Their debut release, Red Bloom of the Boom, was imagined as a formless continuum of bare, uncompromising textural passages, existing somewhere between the narcotic, jazz-like compositions of Can and the barren, spellbinding stillness of post-Colour of Spring Talk Talk. While at times it felt like heavy lifting, they followed it with the more pop-oriented, yet equally dissenting Beast Rest Fourth Mouth.
While undoubtedly the furthest thing from reality, I’d like to think that the recording of Brooklyn experimental rock outfit Bear in Heaven‘s third album, I Love You, It’s Cool, went a little like the following: A nerdy kid, lover of Doctor Who, and owner of many Star Wars 12? figures put all that kiddie stuff in a box under his bed, picked up a synth (being too awkward for a guitar), and did his best to refigure and regurgitate the records of his newfound idols Morrissey, Can, and Prince. That scenario, above any other and despite all impossibilities, best explains the New Wave-inspired krautrock and emotional sensibility of the record’s 10 concise tracks. It’d be unfair to call this LP immature or underdeveloped.
Ever since the sequencer replaced the guitar as the instrument du jour of indie rock, every band is seemingly in a race to be the modern-day equivalent of New Order. Whether consciously or not, acts like Tanlines, Neon Indian, the Big Pink, Porcelain Raft, Crystal Castles, and Grimes are chasing after the synth-fueled sweet spot Bernard Sumner and crew so often hit, an urgent-cool, experimental mix of pop, punk, and dance that lent the Joy Division offshoot so much allure, style, and credibility. Brooklyn outfit Bear in Heaven is another name to add to that ever-growing pile wannabes: After earning some love for their 2009 sophomore album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth (and sounding especially New Order-ish on standout track “You Do You”), the trio puts a smooth, glowing polish on their electro-noise sound with I Love You, It’s Cool.
The Brooklyn band’s third album grabs the listener from its first play. Chris Beanland 2012 If you've got a spare four months you might like to listen to the stream of I Love You, It's Cool which Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven have slowed down by 400,000%. The as-good-as interminable 2,700 hours of pure drone is a neat skit, and it allows reviewers to make the know-it-all point that, actually, you need to give this band time.
Just to give you an idea of the type of band Bear In Heaven is, its current tour involves a homemade light/effects machine, made from scratch with friends and carrying various risks of explosions and/or awesomeness. More recently, the Brooklyn band put its new record, I Love You, It’s Cool, up for stream on its website—that is, a version slowed down to all oblivion, in which four-on-the-floor beats became completely denature into ambient swirls. Bear In Heaven wants you to dance, but the band doesn’t go about that mission in the conventional sense, as is proven with I Love You, It’s Cool, a dizzying doozy of a dance album that is as challenging as it is catchy.Let’s start with the catchy.