There is a vulnerability in Boy & Bear’s third album; a raw exposure that is unheard in their previous releases. Although the band’s ability to transform anguish into upbeat tracks remains, we find an added layer of grit here. Due to the band’s gruelling 13 month world-wide tour, which saw the band perform 170 shows, frontman Dave Hosking found writing a new album alone impossible. This has resulted in a collective exploration of personal demons in further depth than previous records.
The opening track Limit of Love slides along easily, with guitar mixed with a rhythmic pots and pans-like backing track. With the guiding encouragement of producer Ethan Johns, who has worked with the likes of Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon and Kaiser Chief, the band recorded the album live to tape, with minimal edits. This organic sound comes through on the album. Walk the Wire, written in just one sitting, is energetic and catchy, with earthy undertones that will be sure to please fans.
Boy & Bear have a talent for creating quick paced, almost joyous songs, but the lyrics tell a different story that demand attention. Hollow Ground incorporates traditional piano with melodic beats, with the opening line, “I’m a stone cold liar,” referring to Hosking’s inner struggle with stubbornness.
The final track Fox Hole is achingly beautiful. Hosking’s strained vocals adds to the imperfection of the track and represents the amount of themselves the band have poured into the album.