September 23, 2019 Boy & Bear – Suck On Light (Album Review)
One of Australia’s contemporary purveyors of Folk/Indie Rock music, Boy & Bear was formed ten years ago in Sydney, New South Wales. A five times ARIA Award winning band, in their full decade of activity they have already released three top-selling and chart-topping albums with their highly anticipated fourth LP set to see the light of day on Friday, September 27th.
Set for released via Nettwerk, Boy & Bear’s forthcoming offering, titled Suck On Light is their first since 2015’s Limit of Love. Produced by the band themselves along with Collin Dupuis (The Black Keys, Angel Olsen, Ex Hex), and mixed in part by Grammy Award-winning Engineer Tom Elmhirst (Arcade Fire, Beck, Lorde), it is being dubbed their “best record to date” by Lead Singer Dave Hosking. Together with Killian Gavin (vocals and guitar), Tim Hart (drums and vocals), Jonathan Hart (vocals, banjo, mandolin and keyboards), and David Symes (bass), Hosking fights back from a debilitating illness that nearly ended the band.
A total of twelve new songs, it begins with a seeming homage to the late-’60s phase of The Beatles, in the form of “Work of Art.” This is followed by the title-track which comes off as a matrimony of Baroque Pop and early ’70s Pop Rock, marrying scathing guitar lines and string orchestration. The ensuing “Bird of Paradise” then picks up with a similarly nostalgic, bluesy sensibility. Then there is the countryside dalliance of “Telescope.”
Boy & Bear then takes the listener to a more ambient space as it delivers the soulful croon and soft swagger of “Dry Eyes.” A further trek into somberness plays next—the acoustic-oriented, slow, shimmering ballad “Long, Long Way.” Another Country/Folk-influenced track, “Off My Head,” follows coolly and seamlessly. The next song, “Bad People,” then treats the listener once again to the sound of ’70s Folk Pop.
After the string of rustic excursion, Boy & Bear goes back to the present, with the edgy and contemporary popular song “Hold Your Nerve,” which then segues to U2 territory (“Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?”) with “Rocking Horse.” The penultimate track, “BCS” signals the end of the trip—flowing, languid, pulsating, and relaxing. Finally, Hosking, Gavin, the two Harts, and Symes dim the light that they have sucked on with the melodic, subtly orchestrated, and waving mid-tempo “Vesuvius.”
In this latest work of theirs, the quintet explore the early roots of their music, and the results were apt and refreshing, something new especially for those who have been familiar with Boy & Bear’s previous records. That said, Suck On Light is a breath of fresh air… comforting, enlightening, and alluring. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.