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Bear in Heaven - I Love You, It’s Cool

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Artist: Bear in Heaven

Album: I Love You, It’s Cool

Label: Dead Oceans

Review date: Apr. 4, 2012

On its first two records, Brooklyn-based Bear in Heaven offered tangled webs of synthesized sounds — streams of genre consciousness that hopped from the electronic art rock of the 1970s to the bombastic, post hip-hop pop of, say, Merriweather Post Pavilion or Tomboy. On its third album, I Love You, It’s Cool, Bear in Heaven has let gravity have its way, plopping down the giant feet of the extraterrestrial teddy in one place. Dispensing with much of its erstwhile predilection for experimental wandering, the group has found firm footing behind the iPod-cum-DJ booth, delivering a set of dense, not always danceable party music.

The record begins promisingly. “Idle Heart” ushers the listener in with spacy wind sounds that quickly give way to straight percussion, a memorable bass loop, and finally a vocal melody that sticks, even though it climaxes in what sounds more like a lead-in to a non-existent chorus than a proper hook. “The Reflection of You,” another early highlight, takes Animal Collective’s “My Girls” as its obvious point of departure. It’s an endearing amalgam of addictive, jittery synth lines of different durations and speeds running atop syncopated snare and intermittent tom-tom runs.

Yet, whereas the recent efforts of Noah Lennox and company are characterized by a nimble use of melody, harmony and echo to give every-which-way sonic tapestries a remarkable coherence, the sound of Bear in Heaven’s latest full length is often a heftier, more congealed haze. The sound is not objectionable per se, but too often it lumbers (appropriately, perhaps given the group’s moniker). This is especially true on numbers such as “Noon Noon,” “Warm Water” and “Sweetness & Sickness,” which lack the ubiquitous double-time synth lines that sputter through many of the tracks.

But even when rapid lines govern a song, the results don’t always feel fleet afoot. For all its veneer of accessible pop, I Love You, It’s Cool is too often bereft of good old-fashioned melody — still too often adrift in the clouds of instrumentation. However much it may have shed the trappings of prog-rock proper, the shortcomings of that genre are still Bear in Heaven’s own.

By Benjamin Ewing

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