Album Review: Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool

[Hometapes; 2012]

Has it really only been two and a half years since Beast Rest Forth Mouth? Surprisingly, yes. But the wait for Bear in Heaven’s third record, released earlier this month with the fantastically blasé title I Love You, It’s Cool, has somehow dragged on for much longer. Some of that is because Bear In Heaven didn’t play the blogosphere game. You know the one. It’s built to take advantage of the daily, unstoppable indie music news cycle by parsing out information and advance singles bit by bit, keeping the band’s name in the press and the background chatter as consistent as possible. With I Love You, It’s Cool, it was suddenly announced for April, then the band released a live stream slowed down to last four months, and then, like clockwork, it was released in April. Here you go. New record.

About that middle section. The official live stream of I Love You, It’s Cool was posted on the band’s website in December, following their announcement of the new record. And it started playing the moment it was posted. The band had slowed the recording down 400,000%, so that it would last from the announcement of the record to its release. A “comment on the current state of album promotion, hype cycles, countdowns, and all the marketing ploys that we accept as a reality of existing within an internet age” they called it.

With that in mind, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that I Love You, It’s Cool would expand upon the weirder bits of Bear In Heaven’s repertoire, maybe focusing on the tribal rhythms that lent their songs a sense of primal energy, or featuring noise freak-outs and drone break downs and distortion blow ups. Instead, the new record goes the opposite direction, playing up the most crowd-pleasing aspects of their music. I Love You, It’s Cool is Bear in Heaven at their most grandiose, most accessible, and most ’80s. If you mistake it for the Drive soundtrack, well, no one could in good conscience blame you.

The directness of songs like “Sinful Nature” or opener “Idle Heart” are pleasant and pleasantly surprising. There’s a lot of mindless head bobbing you can do to this record, a lot of simple, sing-a-long vocal melodies, a lot of rousing crescendos. I Love You, It’s Cool may not always be cranked to 11, but it’s never more than a few minutes from getting there, and when it does, it’s pretty damn moving. Check out the closing moments of “World of Freakout” for an example, as the thick synth chords become front line soldiers in the Loudness War as they swell toward a coda that deserves a real nice hi-fi.

But there’s a nuance sacrificed by playing up these aspects of Bear in Heaven’s sound. The aforementioned tribal rhythms have no place in I Love You‘s world. The patience/payoff of earlier works like “Dust Cloud” are absent. There’s a song that sounds virtually indistinguishable from Cut Copy (“Warm Water”). Because so many of these tracks strive to reach the excellent marriage of heartsick synth pop and universal pathos of Beast Rest Forth Mouth standout “Lovesick Teenagers,” the fact that everything on the record has been attempting the same dulls those peaks a bit.

Don’t let that get in the way of enjoying I Love You, It’s Cool, though. Because while it’s not as subtle or as elegantly constructed as Beast Rest Forth Mouth, this record has a kineticism and momentum that Beast lacked. It’s unabashedly fun, even when it’s melancholy, and it’s particularly rewarding when it reaches its blown-out M83 moments, inciting some hand-to-God fist pumps. While it lacks some of the detail that made Beast such a surprise, I Love You, It’s Cool pummels its way into your rotation.