Marking their territory, as boys and bears often do, with a solid release of singles, Boy and Bear’s self-titled release is an inevitable stormer. Those who listened in on Silver Moon, the forest-going connotations helmed by such a track and the freedom within, were in the know long before Boy and Bear released. Enter into those welcoming tones found on Strange World, it is one after all. Sad places are charted by Boy and Bear, not just its opening track but the eleven-track project. A wonderful and confident experience, it takes its chances and maintains a quality Boy and Bear developed with their singles. Aim to time it right, as Strange World demonstrates with its lyrics and its flowing, instrumental indie collections.
Hints of jangle pop and some elevated, sparkling little instruments pop through the background of Boy and Bear’s opening track, a nice mood-setter, a crucial one. Bono’s levels of mood-setting brilliance are found in State of Flight, their charming guitar work and the interjections of a singer who knows the range of his voice and is keen to utilise every little corner and pitch of it. Confidence like that separates Boy and Bear. Dream on through Silver Moon too, a nice little track to break the fatigue you may feel under your eyes after eight hours of staring, quietly, into a screen. Boy and Bear is a break from the pace around you and knows as much. It maintains its free-flowing, easy-going style with such a refined quality. An absolute delight in every way, those first three tracks make a statement, a bold and ambitious one for Boy and Bear to kindle the further through they go.
Even then, Boy and Bear know when and, crucially, how, to change their tone. Magnus builds nicely and caps off a four-piece of strong indie guitar ballads before a neat switch-up on Apex brings sensible percussion to the forefront. Those incredibly well-placed guitar strums are still there, naturally. It is hard to find holes in Boy and Bear, whether that is because it is a tremendous turn from the Australian indie band or fatigue has ripped through eyes and ears is unknowable. What is discernible, though, is the possibilities and emotions Boy and Bear elicit. Rather freely, without all too much urgency, there is a relinquishing feeling to Boy and Bear, a tenderness which puts itself out there most of all on Muscle, a seemingly apologetic track which is as thankful as it is contrite
Assured and welcoming as Boy and Bear is, the latter half of the album serves as the potential for self-confrontation. Use it well and apply the likes of Crossfire and Tin Man as necessary. Boy and Bear do not imply or attempt to show a listener how they should be sorting themselves out, but the intention and observations made throughout the record, the warmth and consistency throughout, is a bright feel. Perfectly timed as the sky stops pouring buckets of snow everywhere, a summery feel flows through Boy and Bear, a necessary set of playlist additions – but of course, it is more than that. It is a mood developer, an intimate portrayal of anxieties and grief in the face of isolation and contempt for the self, as is shown in Just to Be Kind. Workings like that from Boy and Bear are sudden, sprawling and strong.