Bear Hands

Distraction

by Matthew Fiander

2 April 2014

 
cover art

Bear Hands

Distraction

(Cantora)
US: 18 Feb 2014
UK: 18 Feb 2014

Bear Hands’ new album, Distraction, is nothing if not aptly titled. These songs, industrial-sized, electronic-touched compositions built on a punk fury, are constantly shifting. They speed up, they slow down. They approximate the distracted mind well, especially on the frantic verses and wide-open choruses of “Giants”, the stuttering pace of “Agora” or big troubling spaces of “Party Hats”. These songs juxtapose elements, soft vocals with jagged guitars, say, to solid effect, creating maximalist pop tunes that both stick in your head and surround you with atmosphere.

Outside of these highlights, though, too much of the album becomes buried under that atmosphere. It lays too thick on the slick propulsion of “Bone Digger”. Layered distortion upsets the dream-like qualities of “Vile Iowa” without really changing them. “Though Wrong” skitters along, letting space render it small instead of stretching it out. In these moments, the compositions are presented as basic, but a flurry of instrumentation makes this basic nature seem too easy instead of straightforward. Distraction has its moments, but in the end the title isn’t what this album overcomes, but rather what it surrenders to.

Distraction

Rating:

 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.

 


//comments
//related
//Mixed media
//Blogs

20 Questions: Nashville Singer-Songwriter Natalie Hemby

// Sound Affects

"Natalie Hemby's Puxico is a standout debut from a songwriter who has been behind the scenes for over a decade.

READ the article