Review of Beast Rest Forth Mouth Album by Bear In Heaven

Taking inspiration from each element of the group, Bear In Heaven have gone for a polarised, or magnetic, approach to representation. Beast Rest Forth Mouth (A sort of Stateside Cockney rhyming slang) is the groups take on East, West, North, South and supposedly captures the input, inspiration and 'collective consciousness of the 4 headed organism.' Heavy stuff. If the driving force, and constant throughout the bands history, the vocalist come talisman Jon Philpott is the Mouth then who pray is the beast among the four?

Taking their sound from Pop, Rock, Prog, Alternative, Minimalist and Psychedelic, among others, and citing influences as varied as Talk Talk and R-Kelly (!?!) pinning Bear In Heaven down is never going to prove easy. The band all hail from the sleepy South of the United States but are now all residing in what has become rocks equivalent to the Mormon's Salt Lake City, namely Brooklyn. BRFM is the follow up to their debut full length album, 2007's Red Bloom In Boom. Since then they have had to reconfigure their set up, from a 5 to a 4 piece, having lost bassist James Elliott to concentrate on his other band, La La's favourite, School Of Seven Bells.

Bear In Heaven Beast Rest Forth Mouth Album

The album has some very fine percussion, delivered potently, by the aptly named drummer Joe Stickney as well as orchestrated stadium filling keyboard work, worthy of Rick Wakeman or Jon Lord, courtesy of Jon Philpott and Sadek Bazarra. The arrangements are solid rather than sublime, concise rather than contrived and effective rather than effervescent. Beast Rest Forth Mouth is an amalgam of tenuously linked threads held together deftly by the four accomplished protagonists.

There are brief forays into all manner of territory throughout the 10 tracks. 'Lovesick Teenagers' starts with a P.I.L., 'Rise', bass line before drifting into a more familiar sound. A concept album track, taken out of context maybe, A flock Of Seagulls meets a Roger Waters-less Pink Floyd? (That's not familiar at all) 'Dust Cloud' touches on early Cocteau Twins with its Sugar Hiccup style intro and 'Ultimate Satisfaction' works somewhere between where Maps and Ladytron converge. Elsewhere we are treated to a Happy Mondays(ish) sing-a-long chorus on 'Wholehearted Mess' as well as Arcade Fire pretensions on 'Deafening Love'.

The Album is full of BIG sounds and some epic imagery. There is little to dislike, but conversely there are no real attention grabbers, no killer hook or lasting lyrical memory. Upon its U.S release Pitchfork honoured it with a 'Best New Music' award. May be it's a subtle difference in U.K vs U.S tastes but I'm just not feeling that justification. It may grow on you but probably not fast, or convincingly, enough to make it resonate.

Andrew Lockwood.

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