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Bear's Den - Blue Hours (Album Review)

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Bennie Curnow

The major driver behind Bear’s Den’s fourth album ‘Blue Hours’ is depression. Both Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones have suffered recently, and acknowledge the stigma and reluctance to speak out about mental health, a particular issue among men. ‘Blue Hours’ is a reference to an “imaginary space you get into at night” to “process difficult things”—it is awash with lyrical torment but the songs are stunning and strangely uplifting.

“A celebration of music” is the intention as the duo, along with producer Ian Grimble, delve into electronics and away from their folk-rock roots. The motorik beats of the title track are a huge early highlight and the similarly paced Spiders is another winner, with the heavy lyrics conveyed in a way that feels like a burden shared.

Opener New Ways is another stunner, while closer All The Wrong Places tugs at the heartstrings (“I will bury all of my memories of you”).

Both are overburdened with unnecessary string accompaniment, though, a trait also affecting several other tracks. Shadows is another, with its orchestral elements feeling like an afterthought, but it matters not. The repetitive piano line recalls Badly Drawn Boy as Davie intones “the shadows always seem to find you”.

Selective Memories plays a deft hand by contrasting Davie’s mother’s life with dementia with the new memories made since the arrival of his first child—it’s suitably affecting. The monumental centrepiece All That You Are is haunting and achingly sad. “I hope you find someone who loves you for all that you are…I hope I find someone who loves me for all that I am,” he sings, in one of the most heartfelt and beautiful vocal deliveries laid down on a Bear’s Den record to date.

At times spellbinding, heart-wrenching and emotionally charged, ‘Blue Hours’ is bigger and more ambitious than anything they’ve done before. If you give it the love it deserves, it could comfort you in times of need for years to come.

Bear's Den Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed May 25 2022 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Newcastle University
Thu May 26 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Fri May 27 2022 - LEEDS Leeds University Stylus

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