Release Date: Aug 5, 2014
Record label: Hometapes
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Bear in Heaven has never been known for a discernible sense of pace or direction. Both 2007's Red Bloom of the Boom and 2009's Beast Rest Forth Mouth were master classes in spacey, textured krautrock, while the streamlined synth-pop of 2012's uneven I Love You, It's Cool sounded like a different band altogether, morphing lead singer Jon Philpot's ponderous vocals into an almost sensual caricature. Luckily, Bear in Heaven has returned with a renewed sense of kinetic urgency on Time Is Over One Day Old, a refreshing dose of new-wave prog retrofitted with the band's signature offbeat subtleties.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. When I reviewed Bear In Heaven's last album, 2012's I Love You, It's Cool the one complaint I had was that it felt, despite it being generally good, rather one-paced. Some tracks felt comfortable in around third gear, weighed down slightly by unnecessary instrumentation and as the record went on that feeling nagged.
I know we’re supposed to act like we know everything about every band we like, but the reality is often different, especially in our information-overload era. I’ve enjoyed each of Bear in Heaven’s albums, since their debut full-length in 2007. I’ve listened to each of their albums 10-20 times apiece. I’ve seen the band play live.
Although Bear in Heaven released their previous effort with plenty of tongue-in-cheek pomp and publicity, debuting the album as a glacially paced drone track as well as a brief mockumentary on the making of the album before eventually releasing it at the proper speed, their fourth release, Time Is Over One Day Old, has had a quieter, more subtle introduction to the world that matched the low-key vibe of their fourth full-length. Dark and spacious, the record takes the Brooklynites knack for carefully textured synth melodies and silky smooth to a more nocturnal space with a collection of ethereal, late-night jams. On "Time Between," Jon Philpot's droning keyboards provide a spacy undercurrent for Adam Willis' delicate, reverb-drenched guitars, creating a dusky atmosphere thats sends the listener on a tour of New York City by night.
It's not clear if the latest Bear in Heaven album is named for the sly joke that the music it contains is playing on us. In some ways, each of the songs this Brooklyn band present here is some kind of call back to eras or artists that precede it, but the influences are distorted, ground up and rendered with specific intent. It's foggy post-pop — skittering prog-percussion and swampy synths bolstering Jon Philpot's high, airy voice as he vents and lets go of his past.
Bear in Heaven's last outing, 2012's I Love You, It's Cool, completed a three-album cycle that slowly refined and streamlined these Brooklynites' unpredictable blend of pop and outright experimentation into something a hint more soft-edged and palatable. Time Is Over One Day Old, for its part, seems to take a step back, acknowledging the whole body of work but reintegrating just a pinch of those early (welcome) excesses, along with a decidedly more introspective and impenetrable vibe. .
After the restless frenzy of 2012's I Love You, It's Cool, Jon Philpot's Brooklyn collective Bear in Heaven return with something of a masterclass in fourth album rejuvenation. As a band whose sound has remained impossible to trace to a single touchstone, their only consistency is a love of sonic density and Philpot's thick, dulcet vocals. Time Is Over One Day Old treads a manic path that feels instantly familiar yet undeniably fresh even when those nagging influences finally become apparent.
Bear in Heaven are a difficult band to describe, which actually made them easy to categorize at one point. When Animal Collective was indie rock’s undisputed, reigning MVP in 2009, a record like Beast Rest Forth Mouth could elevate a promising prospect to All-Star status: there was a demand for bands that were percussive and electronic with some basis in rock-band composition, bearing boyish vocals that were still handsome and masculine. The Brooklyn-via-Atlanta trio, like most in their position, got more urbane and technophilic on their follow-up I Love You, It’s Cool, a solid record but also a holding pattern that established staying power at the sake of artistic momentum.
Bear in Heaven are releasing their fourth LP on Dead Oceans, not DFA, but their organic analog approach to making dance rock aligns with the James Murphy ethos. It wasn’t always that way. With each successive album, Bear in Heaven sound more like The Rapture and less like Neu!, and their fourth LP, Time Is Over One Day Old, continues that trend. It’s a catchy, well-produced record with occasionally beautiful atmospherics.
Over the course of four albums, Brooklyn-based three piece Bear in Heaven have carved out a reputation for epic, soundscapey post-rock that manages to combine experimentation with mainstream appeal. But on Time Is Over One Day Old, they seem to be caught in a musical no-man's land between the two. The standout tracks here – such as opener Autumn, on which they dabble in pounding drums laced with synths and approach something like Factory Floor's "live techno"; and the similarly driving Demon – are easily outnumbered by boring, faintly dirgey expositions.
Since dropping their debut album Red Bloom of the Boom in 2007, Brooklyn three piece Bear in Heaven have been on a steady upward trajectory. It helped that their second album, 2010’s Beast Rest Fourth Mouth contained one of those tracks that ends up being a ubiquitous indie anthem (See fellow Brooklyn acts The Walkmen and Interpol with “The Rat” and “PDA” respectively). “Lovesick Teenagers” more than held its own within such company, and set them up nicely to make that leap into the outskirts of the mainstream.
STREAM TIME IS OVER ONE DAY OLD: opinion by BRENDAN FRANK Up until now, Bear in Heaven have been pretty good at disguising how ambitious their music is. This is in part due to their restrained use of technology on their earliest releases, but it’s also because when they overtly tried to go big, they stumbled. Their last effort, 2012’s I Love You, It’s Cool, with its offhand title, dreadful cover art and overall garishness, would be off-putting had you not already familiarized yourself with their fantastic breakthrough album, 2009’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth.
Bear in Heaven’s “Time Is Over One Day Old” is an album just good enough to be met with far more enthusiasm than it deserves. On its fourth full-length, the Brooklyn group hits the sonic sweet spots of post-punk revivalism — a guitar that claws abrasively through the mix; a bobbling bass that shoulders the songs’ melodic drive; drums that generate a tense, knife-edge momentum — which alone are enough to carry the shuddering “Time Between” and give “You Don’t Need the World” the additive weight of repetition. But a good sound can only support wobbly songs so far, and the middle third of the album sinks into a deadly lull that suggests the band only sporadically knows how to pull off slower tempos.