So often in the musical community, one must grapple with the constant question that looms over new indie music; is this good music because it sounds cool or is this good music because it’s genuinely creative?
One genre that brings to mind that concern is the fascinating spawn of the New Wave/New Romanticism movement. Every few years, indie rock becomes saturated with synth-pop heavy music (remember 2008)?
That bass-filled, electronic, Brit rock sound has infiltrated Brooklyn’s trendy music scene and the result is Bear in Heaven’s third LP, I Love You, It’s Cool.
So far, this album has received mixed reviews. Music blog Consequence of Sound said it best: “There’s this dynamic going on throughout the musical choices, a kind of uncomplicated complexity or a complicated simplicity.”
Other music blogs felt that the album either highlighted the band’s newfound maturity or, on the flip side, glorified their teenage years. No one can pin down the message of I Love You, It’s Cool, but that’s hardly surprising. It’s difficult to capture the meat of a record when vocals, lyrics and loud synthetic beats are all fighting for the listener’s attention.
That’s not to say that synth pop-rock is a genre unworthy of critics’ praise. I Love You, It’s Cool is clearly a well-produced album, and despite the lack of clarity, this record offers a lot in terms of awesome electronic climaxes and smooth beats.
I Love You starts off with high tempo track “Idle Heart.” This is one of the best songs on the record. The climaxes in the music are exciting and though the band’s energy is intense there is still an aura of melancholy, which cancels out the superficial tone provided by the synth pop sounds. Unfortunately, tracks like “Idle” are few and far between on this record.
This is not an album made up of singles, but “The Reflections of You” is the one track that could hold that title. The clean bass line brings a rockier sound into the track and the lyrics are actually decipherable.
Singer Jon Philpot has a soft yet strong voice that pairs nicely with dance music, but on most of the tracks he’s drowned out by pop beats.
However, the lyrics are key to understanding why this album is important. “Reflections” is about insecurities, loneliness and the general awkward maladies of the average twenty-something. This track proves to listeners that this is an album with dance music, but it is not a disco record, a distinction that makes all of the difference.
“Sinful Nature,” “Kiss Me Crazy” and “Warm Water” are all groovy-sounding tracks, but after listening to a few of these electronic-pop songs in a row, each individual track loses its unique flavor. That is the downfall of the album.
Bear in Heaven is a talented band and I Love You It’s Cool has potential, but the constant pattering of synthetic beats, and the lack of emphasis on Philpot’s vocals, turns what could be a great album into a dreamy but mind-numbing experience.
This is not a terrible album by any means; however, it isn’t very memorable either.
Bear in Heaven is not currently scheduled to play any shows in Seattle. For more information, visit their website bearinheaven.com.