The Brooklyn band’s third album grabs the listener from its first play.
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. Aren’t we writers just so perceptive?
Time isn’t necessarily what you need to give this album at all, though. The Reflection of You is an immediate winner that grabs you by the lapels and pulls you right in close. It’s a synth-driven pure pop gem that requires next to no time to take hold.
Sinful Nature is another effort that’s deliciously hooky from the first taste, and while Bear in Heaven’s card might’ve been marked as psychedelic prior to this third LP’s release, there are no outré elements purely for the sake of it, and nothing is ever overblown.
Almost everything is tight and controlled, returning time and again to the simple power of a pop song. Frontman Jon Philpot seems in thrall to John Travolta on The Reflection of You when he winks, “If you come dance with me / I think you will like my moves.” Elsewhere, with his big mouth and strut strapped on, he very nearly channels Ian Brown on the stomping Space Remains.
But if there’s a criticism to direct this trio’s way, it’s that they perhaps could get lost in the moment a bit more, as when they do it’s glorious. Three-minutes-fifty into World of Freakout and then again during Sinful Nature they stretch the song at hand further than it should go, upping the ante, volume and intensity into elongated crescendos that Hot Chip would be proud of. And maintaining these directions even longer wouldn’t have seemed self-indulgent – they could swell to mountainous proportions and please any listener.
The qualities that may have led to comment that this album needs time to sink in are found during slower, moodier moments: lugubrious grooves like Warm Water and Noon Moon, each a thoughtful slice of modern electronica. Longevity might ultimately be an issue, but if we’re living in the moment – as the superb title of this record seems to suggest we do – then who cares? Just dance.
Bear in Heaven – “Reflection of You” (Official Video by John Lee of PFFR)
1 Idle Heart
2 The Reflection of You
3 Noon Moon
4 Sinful Nature
5 Cool Light
6 Kiss Me Crazy
7 World of Freakout
8 Warm Water
9 Space Remains
10 Sweetness & Sickness
About the band:
Bear in Heaven is a Brooklyn-based rock band formed by Jon Philpot. The sound of the band incorporates influences from psychedelic music, electronic music, and krautrock.
Jon Philpot has previously released music as part of the duo Presocratics, in collaboration with guitarist and composer Need Thomas Windham. Presocratics released two albums on the record label Table of the Elements in 2001; both were produced by Philpot.
The first Bear in Heaven release (Tunes Nextdoor to Songs, Eastern Developments 2003) was an EP of solo recordings by Philpot, with guest musicians performing on various instruments. Shortly after the release of Tunes Nextdoor to Songs, Philpot joined with guitarist Adam Wills, keyboardist/guitarist Sadek Bazarra (a graphic designer with Brooklyn design collective GH avisualagency), guitarist David Daniell (of San Agustin), and bassist James Elliott (Ateleia, School of Seven Bells). Eventually drummer Joe Stickney (formerly of Perpetual Groove, drummer with Paul Duncan, Rhys Chatham’s Essentialist project, and current touring drummer with Panthers) was added to the lineup. Daniell left Bear in Heaven in 2005 to focus on his solo project.
In 2006 they did a Take-Away Show video session shot by Vincent Moon.
Red Bloom of the Boom, Bear in Heaven’s first full-length album with the full band, was released in 2007 by the Hometapes record label.
Elliott left the band after the completion of the recordings of Red Bloom of the Boom to focus on School of Seven Bells and his solo project, Ateleia. Bear in Heaven now performs as a four-piece with Philpot on vocals, guitar and keyboards; Wills on guitar and bass; Bazarra on bass and keyboards; and Stickney on drums.
Their 2010 album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, received the “Best New Music” award from Pitchfork Media, with the reviewer stating: “Beast Rest Forth Mouth is as familiar-feeling as it is difficult to pinpoint. Mostly made up of textural, spacious three- to four-minute pop anthems with towering choruses, BRFM is a welcome reminder that an album doesn’t have to be bombastic to feel huge and important. Take out the earbuds and let it fill a space: This is music that’s bigger than your iPod—music you’ll want to feel all around you. Though not quite coming out of nowhere, BRFM seems like a surprise gift—a striking consolidation of the spiky psych-prog tendencies of their debut into a pop framework.”
Their most recent album I Love You, It’s Cool was previewed to fans on the band’s website in March 2012 – capturing the album and slowing it down to 2,700 hours of drone. It has so far received positive reviews and was previewed by the website NPR. The album was released on April 3rd.
Tunes Nextdoor to Songs – Eastern Developments CDEP, 2003
Red Bloom of the Boom – Hometapes CD, 2007
Beast Rest Forth Mouth – Hometapes CD, 2009
Beast Rest Forth Mouth UK release – Hometapes/Dreamboat Records CD, 2010
I Love You, It’s Cool – Hometapes CD, 2012