Review Summary: Brooklyn is churning out synth rock bands like Korea's churning out pop stars, but is it losing its edge?
Since the 2009’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth
, the Brooklyn trio Bear In Heaven have nearly reached an arena-rock status where they’ve traded in the krautrock chaos of songs like “You Do You” and have embraced the kind of synthed-out, crescendo-loving dance music that is often associated with “indie pop.” But “pop” isn’t necessarily a great modifier for their newest release, I Love You, It’s Cool
. Rather than catchy hooks or sing-a-long choruses, their songs tend to favor an ongoing composition, which continually warps itself around driving electronic bass lines, shimmering keys, and throws the spotlight on the instrumentation as the forerunner of their dance-friendly rock vibe.
With a close relationship to the 80’s, I Love You, It’s Cool
feels somewhat similar to M83’s monumentally epic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
in overall scope and experience. Right down to the titles’ use of punctuation, I Love You
works on a grand scale where it wants to sound as though it’s constantly reaching a new high. On songs like “The Reflection of You,” lead singer Jon Philpot abandons his boy-like wishy-washy voice and bursts out with the line, “Look in my eyes / You see the reflection of you!” where the swelling in his voice is theatrical and even reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s bravado. Through layers and layers of electronics, the album frequently reaches for a level of grandeur that is sometimes endearing and other times---just too much.
“Kiss Me Crazy” takes its name seriously as it dives headfirst into swirling euphoria and dizzying synth solos; “World of Freakout” leans toward the psychedelic-rock end of the band’s musical spectrum via the likes of Animal Collective’s quirkiness; and “Noon Moon” and “Cool Light” are slow burning songs in the vein of The Cure if they had adopted much more electronics and reverbed the hell out of Robert Smith’s vocals. And yet, with all of the blustery bombast that Bear In Heaven prove they are capable of, I Love You
never truly seems to gush out with the raw emotions they seem to portend. “Daylight won’t stop the flashing lights,” Philpot sings. “It feels like a thousand years has gone by without you.” But it’s difficult to fully connect to that unwavering sentimentality. Their progressive electro rock composition doesn’t necessarily hand itself over to the forlorn themes that Philpot often sings about.
But even as the album closes out with the song that stays weirdly true to its name (“Space Remains”) and the droning whisper-y “Sweetness & Sickness” there’s a pervasive feeling that these New York electronic rockers aren’t intending to get caught up in the plethora of other “indie” artists pouring out from that state by the buckets with their synths proudly in hand. Bear In Heaven want to give you a dance album, but they also want to give you more than a dance album. In a way, this is the sort of dance album that you sit and listen to, rather than actually get down and break out some moves to. And that has a sort of divisive effect overall. On one hand, it’s an awfully enticing album with all of its extensive electronic heights; on the other, it’s sort of a draining album that hits far too many of the same notes. I Love You, It’s Cool
certainly abounds with gems, but it’s up to whether the digging is worth it or not.