Review Summary: What does it take to create music that is truly fun? Apparently not that much...
The concept of "emergence", most often found in such subjects as nature theory and philosophical dialogues, bases itself on a remarkably straightforward thesis: "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Musical aficionados frequently throw around this same conjecture in regards to celebrated bands, affirmatively staking the claim that great music is often the result of nothing more than basic melodies and unostentatious songwriting coming together in a peculiarly beautiful way. Surely one need not look hard to find such artists that boast fantastic end products from the simplest of inputs (Neutral Milk Hotel
, Tom Waits
, and The Rural Alberta Advantage
, just to name a particularly opinionated few). But what about groups whose efforts fail to exceed the summation of their components? Should they be written off altogether? Bands such as Brooklyn-based Bear Hands, who manage to achieve an irrefutable enjoyability via funky tunes and stirring rhythms, answer that question with a big fat NO.
, the group's 2007 debut EP, boasts some pretty familiar elements. Vocalist Dylan Rou sounds as amused as he does annoyed throughout the four-track EP, never allowing the latent angst in his voice to get the best of its general sense of fun. Ted Feldman and Val Loper jam along on guitar and bass guitar with funky, choppy undertones that call to mind the classically recognizable Brooklyn indie sound as well as an undeniably fun nature. Rounding out the simplistic fusion is drummer TJ Orscher, whose primarily bass/snare/hi-hat based percussion act is nothing short of both unifying and yep, you guessed it, fun. Put all together, the end product is exactly that - fun, nothing more, nothing less. Golden
is delightfully brief yet fantastically triumphant, inducing the irresistible need to foot-tap along to the group's perfect mix of spunk and funk.
Although these marginally amusing New Yorkers generally stick to their basic indie-rock formula, tinges of outside influences do make their way onto Golden
. The EP's title track showcases a more psychedelic sound, reminiscent of fellow Brooklyn-natives and former tour-buddies MGMT
. Distant, sputtered vocals accompany lumbering musicianship throughout the song, threatening to build up and boil over before returning to a fading, lethargic conclusion. Allow yourself feel foolish in humming along to the Pavement
-esque "Long and Lean", whose obnoxiously repetitive chorus barks, "Long and lean, God save the Queen! Peace in the world is peace in my brain!
" Sure the songwriting is spasmodic and borderline stupid, but Golden
maintains its recreational manner from start to finish.
This debut EP from NYC's Bear Hands is an effort that should be taken for what it is, that is, a compressed collection of lighthearted and jovial tunes. Its melodic reach never really surpasses the sum of its parts, but then again, its simplistic nature is exactly what makes it so catchy and entertaining in the first place. I'm sure the funky foursome are aware of the fact that they don't break any musical boundaries with their work, and I'd like to think that they're perfectly at ease with that. They certainly enjoy themselves, however, and that's engaging enough in its own right, making Golden
a debut that's worth checking out from a band that is surely worth watching out for.