Mosaic / Music / Reviews / April 4, 2012

Bears produce transcendence

Technically, Bear In Heaven’s “I Love You, It’s Cool” has been out for a few months now. Ahead of its April 3 release on Dead Oceans, the Brooklyn trio released a dramatically slowed-down, 2,700-hour version of the new record online. Beginning in early February the online social media-sphere was all a twitter with adds and links directing the potentially intrepid consumer through a series of portals to a mysterious soundcloud account streaming the outlandishly warped version of the trio’s junior effort.

For the hordes of hypercritical indie-rock consumers, it’s natural to maintain a bit of healthy skepticism toward Bear In Heaven, given the gimmicky nature of the stretched-out stream. But listen to the official 45-minute cut of “I Love You, It’s Cool,” the official release is immediately more listenable — a collection of pristine intricate pop melodies repressed by what seems like thousands of layers of analogue synths, drones and building white noise — sans gimmicks.

In a truly impressive stroke of musical ingenuity, group members Adam Wills, Joe Stickney and John Philpot achieve an air of synth-pop familiarity, while simultaneously exposing the deeply layered production and tracking of the record, creating an intensely rewarding experience for any crazed audiophiles. Addressing the casual listener, “I Love You, It’s Cool” is chock-full of catchy 80s suggestive hooks and refrains. The band channel their creative energy into constructing rich layers of melody friendly approachability that shines on the dance floor, rather than the inherently ethereal realm of 80s suggestive synth-pop that seems so pervasive within American independent music as of late.

Most of my friends really dig this record, probably because most of my friends are 80s babies. In that vein, “I Love You, It’s Cool” is the best piece of Ferris Bueller soundtrack nostalgia this side of 1989. The second track and first single off the new record, “The Reflection of You,” is clearly the album’s shiniest gem. To date, the track is obviously the biggest departure from In Heaven’s previous body of work, which definitely leans towards the more grounded indie-rock genre of the early/mid 2000s. Additionally, if you can find the Lovelock remix of this song, you should do that.

In contrast, the band takes the biggest risks on “Warm Water,” employing a myriad of dissonance and awesome noise. At certain points, it seems almost like the synths strike at random, attacking the foundation of the recording at will. It seems like something that might create an overarching sonic conflict that could potentially stop the song dead, but it doesn’t, in fact it works to compliment the inherently passive structure of the song. It’s a very cool effect.

Overall, the songs blend and bleed into each other in a favorable manner that creates a general theme of synth nostalgia, tying each track together into a true body of work. Wills, Stickney and Philpot have successfully engineered a complete record that transcends the obvious confines of modern synth-pop via their unique stylings of songwriting and recording. “I Love, You It’s Cool” is out on April 3 via Dead Oceans, and is available in the WVKC library.

Andrew Whitman Stocker


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