On their new album So That You Might Hear Me, Bear’s Den pour their hearts out to their loved ones and listeners once more. From the opener Hiding Bottles, about an alcohol addiction of someone close, to the acoustic ballad Crow about the untimely loss of a father figure to the final song Blankets Of Sorrow, that ends on the hushed line “so that you might hear me” that became the album’s title, the London duo are at their most intimate on album number three.
When Bear’s Den ditched their banjos and folk guitars for synths and effects on their sophomore album Red Earth & Pouring Rain in 2016, quite a few eyebrows were raised at first. However, their new found soft rock sound suited them well and peaked at number 6 on the UK charts.
On So That You Might Hear Me, the band seem to reconcile the predominantly acoustic sounds of their debut album Islands and the stadium sized sound of the second full length. While the first few songs, Hiding Bottles, Fossils and Laurel Wreath seem like direct follow up to Red Earth, the album’s middle section with ballads Breaker / Keeper, Crow, and Conversations With Ghosts is almost as stripped back a the album’s black and white artwork.
Bear’s Den – Laurel Wreath
It’s not just the instrumentation but musically these acoustic songs rest on very little change. While the lyrics are personal and honest, the music on some of these tracks never reaches the same chilling heights as it did on their previous record. Then again there is beauty in the detail such as the the sonar sound on Fuel On The Fire and Not Every River that vocalist and main songwriter Andrew Davie described as “the loneliest sound imaginable” when asked about it on the band’s podcast.
At the end of the day, Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones have crafted a record to daydream and cry to but also one that doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor in terms of composition and replay value. However, while there is a few things to be desired on So That You Might Hear Me, there is also a lot to love.