Tender-rock duo Bear’s Den, made up of songwriter Andrew Davie and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Jones, originate from the British nu-folk scene that spanned the late 2000s and mid-2010s. In 2006, Jones began the Communion file label and publishing firm alongside Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, and Bear’s Den toured alongside each Mumford and early Communion signees Daughter in 2013. Performing pretty commonplace if tender people rock (“Guard your hope along with your life,” Davie pleads on early single “Elysium”), they took a extra modest, intimate method than their artsier friends or their commercially-minded label co-founders. Helmed by indie-rock producer Phil Ek, 2019’s inventive breakthrough So That You Would possibly Hear Me traded in aphorisms for exact, poignant examinations of rising up round alcoholism (the expansive “Hiding Bottles”) and the issue of self-forgiveness (“Evangeline”). They continued this self-questioning streak with the shifting “Favourite Affected person” from 2020’s Christmas Hopefully EP, the place Davie fears he can’t assist his associate, burnt out from early-pandemic days working within the ICU. On their newest album, Blue Hours, Bear’s Den reunite with longtime producer Ian Grimble to additional look at problems with psychological well being. It’s a shifting, typically heartfelt assortment of songs, however the polish belies the advanced sentiments Davie writes about companionship and isolation.
Davie largely focuses on the advantages and challenges of intimacy, notably moments when closeness borders on codependence. His tender method turns into a bonus when he discusses enmeshed relationships and avoidant companions: Any of Bear’s Den’s friends would love to put in writing a line like “You had been dreaming in my nightmares/I’m dreaming in yours.” On the title observe, the one strategy to get inside his lover’s head is to take action actually, crawling round and analyzing each synapse to seek out the problems. Even when the band nails a hovering, string-led anthem like “Shadows,” a easy line like “I ought to know higher/However with you I don’t” complicates the refrain’ affirmation.
Davie journeys inward, too, writing about his lack of readability with an typically stunning quantity of it. “Spiders” overcomes its underweight motorik beat with some self-lacerating however considerate lyrics, the extrapolation of the phrase “stain in your acutely aware” into “a mural” and a “memorial for all these you tried to be.” “Selective Reminiscences” is essentially the most spectacular tonal steadiness the band has ever struck, with lyrics about dropping a father or mother to dementia, analyzing complicated emotions with newfound chew. There’s nonetheless sentimentality within the track, in a verse the place Davie hopes his mother can meet his future granddaughter, however Davie finally decides that he’ll let his unhealthy recollections slip away within the absence of closure. For a band hell-bent on reassurance, forgiving by way of forgetting is a surprisingly harsh conclusion.