Bear Driver - Bear Driver
If we had to summarise Bear Driver in a short opening paragraph to introduce an review, we'd call them a six-piece from Leeds with a fresh DIY take on the kind of guitar pop that inevitably draws comparisons to genre definers such as The Cure and the like, but it would be unreasonable to suggest that Bear Driver's sound is anything but their own.
We'd also say that they've already nailed the act of sounding live when recorded, in a good way (read, they're exciting, not that the production sounds like shit). This may have something to do with the fact that the album was recorded in a disused swimming pool, but it probably has more to do with the pure pop- writing talent
Astutely opening with the frantically swirling guitars of 'Big Love', Bear Driver waste no time in showing off this aforementioned talent. It's a great track that marries nearly Sonic Youth guitars with a pop sensibility that supplies a banging chorus. The urgent 'No Time To Speak', the Cure-esque 'Drones' and 'Let The Cold' are in a similar vein, all high tempos and breathless vocals. 'Enemy', meanwhile, is Arcade Fire's 'Rebellion' reinvented as a stellar Radio 1 ready (this is not faint praise) pop hit.
It is Bear Driver's flipside, the slower, more subdued tracks, that wear the band's more abstract influences more blatantly on their sleeves. Colours Run and its Bombay Bicycle Club (first album era) guitars is still reasonably poppy, but 'Cats' and the overwhelmingly lovely 'Impossible' that show the depth necessary to counterweight the album's sing-along highs.
While there is always a sense of the familiar through the record, there is such a high ratio of memorable hooks to songs – arguably it is only the final two songs that are disposable – that such a criticism seems more than a little trivial. Bear Driver is not an album that will blow you away, but with such levels of exciting raw talent, stealthy pop catchiness, and earnest songwriting it is difficult to recommend enough.
Purchase and listen
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