Boy & Bear – Suck On Light (Album Review)

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.

Boy & Bear 2019 Tour Dates:
Monday September 23 Bottom Lounge, Chicago
Tuesday September 24 Turf Club, Minneapolis
Wednesday September 25 Garrick Centre, Winnipeg
Friday September 27 The Capitol Music Club, Saskatoon
Saturday September 28 The Palace Theatre, Calgary
Sunday September 29 Starlite, Edmonton
Tuesday October 1 Capital Ballroom, Victoria
Wednesday October 2 Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver
Friday October 4 Sunset Tavern, Seattle
Saturday October 5 Aladdin Theater, Portland
Tuesday October 8 The Independent, San Francisco
Wednesday October 9 The Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles
Friday October 11 Constellation Room, Santa Ana
Saturday October 12 Voodoo Room @ House of Blues, San Diego

Purchase Suck On Light:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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