Release Date: Oct 13, 2014
Record label: Southern Fried
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
The 2 Bears' Raf Rundell and Joe Goddard continue the empowering feel of their debut album Be Strong on The Night Is Young, a set of songs that ponder aging and life's fleeting pleasures -- not the least of which are moments spent on the dancefloor. As the duo deals with uncertainty and finds comfort in steady beats, the '90s influences they introduced in their earlier work sound fresher and more relevant than ever. The Night Is Young opens with the inspired one-two punch of "Get Out," which shifts from moody breakbeat to confident house rhythms and back again, and "Angel (Touch Me)," which manages to be equally comforting and kinetic with another solid four-on-the-floor beat and soaring pianos and vocals.
The 2 Bears should be commended for their commitment to bringing a dose of fun back to the dancefloor. Former music press officer Raf Rundell and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard are a serotonin-fuelled alternative to the cerebral glitch of the likes of Fuck Buttons and The Haxan Cloak. Sidestepping the cheesier fringes of 1990s house, but still deeply indebted to its hedonism – especially in the piano-driven ‘Angel (Touch Me)’ and ‘Not This Time’ – the pair’s second album, part-recorded in Cape Town, is full of party tunes with a global framework.
My relationship with Joe Goddard’s musical output has evolved dramatically over the years. When I was a 15-year-old boy with a ridiculous obsession with Nirvana and Led Zeppelin, my Mum played Hot Chip’s first record to death, and I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever heard. As time wore on and my boundaries widened, I realised that Hot Chip were actually really great, with ‘Ready for the Floor’ becoming something of a soundtrack to my latter teenage years.
When The 2 Bears released debut ‘Be Strong’ at the beginning of 2012, UK dance music was on the cusp of a sea change that would, a few months down the line, see the 4/4 formula leave its mark on the top of the charts. In many ways, what the Bears bring to the table is far removed from that branch of the house revival, but the changing dance landscape has brought with it a fresh challenge, one that sees Raf Rundell and Joe Goddard explore new avenues in expressing what they’re about and where they’ve come from. ‘The Night Is Young’ is perhaps one of the most disparate records that you’re likely to hear.
Be Strong, the 2 Bears’ 2012 debut album, staked out a curious musical grey area. We live in an age teeming with musical diversity, but nevertheless, you just don’t get a lot of people making pop-house albums inspired by the credit crunch and the era of austerity, particularly while dressed, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, in bear outfits. And yet there were Raf Rundell and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, peering out from beneath costumes bought on the internet, singing about the raising of the state pension age over four-to-the-floor beats and defiantly retro synths – tellingly, when the 2 Bears picked their 10 favourite dance tracks for the Guardian, all but four of them came from the 1990s and 80s – or updating the theme of Chic’s Good Times by alternately prescribing hedonism as a respite from life’s ills and sorrowfully reflecting that all the drugged-up dancefloor action in the world can hold reality at bay only for so long.
Be Strong, the first album by London’s The 2 Bears (Hot Chip‘s Joe Goddard and Raf Daddy) was always intended to be played loudly at parties and in clubs; putting it on in any other situation would be doing it a massive disservice. Their brand of dance – big, thumping house anthems with influences from across the world – is both boisterous and playful, and it struck a chord with many a raver. For their second LP, The Night Is Young, their wide-eyed giddyness has not diminished.
The charge most often levelled against deep house is that it takes itself far too seriously. The 2 Bears, however, are the genre’s mavericks, their willingness to take risks evident in their second album’s overtures to reggae (Money Man) and the animal costumes the pair wear when performing live. A novelty act, though, Raf Rundell and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard are not: The Night is Young is wide-eyed, invigorating and, on Modern Family, steeped in melancholy.
You'd be hard pressed to find a nicer pair of musicians than Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell, two UK dancehall and garage lifers whose individual careers as DJs (and in Goddard's case, as a member of Hot Chip) inform their work as The 2 Bears. Their 2012 album, Be Strong, made a case for them as conscientious emulators, with positive-minded missives like "Increase Your Faith" and "Get Together" shaped by an eclectic set of influences—a track called "Heart Of The Congos" (named after the Lee "Scratch" Perry-produced album) explained: "it's the sound that keeps me on the ground. " Their follow-up is grounded in the same code of ethics.