Icy Italians follow-up to "Cold" may not be "HOT! HOT! HOT!" but it's definitely "Warmer!".
Central Italy is the last place you'd imagine Be Forest kicked off their shoes and called "Home". 2011's début Cold held the hex of godless, graveyard-grey skylines, bloodtrails in the snow, funeral processions and lonesome spirits condemned to walk the earth eternally in black nail varnish. Theirs was the kind of forest you'd stroll into never to be seen again. Cold was putting it mildly. Earthbeat is still 'Pop for the Pet Semetary' - and again somewhat indebted to the chilly claustrophobia of the Cure circa Pornography - but with an renewed romantic rosiness, harps, flutes and almost playful, rhythmic rumble. Where Cold shivered in the shadows, Earthbeat comparatively skips along the edge of the abyss, yearning of escape. "It's better you run away with me / 'Cause all my life I have been dead inside" swoons typically 'Pretty / Sad' single "Captured Heart" over Erica Terenzi's urgent tribal percussion, Costanza Delle Rose's heavy low-slung bass and Nicola Lampredi's spellbinding, almost-Rockabilly starmaker of a six-string.
Like their 'Raincoats N' Rimbaud' relatives from Joy Division and the Bunnymen to Blouse and Warpaint, Be Forest strive for those witching hour moments when accurs'd, mournful melancholia sounds, well, comforting. An exiled martyr's weep for the memories, promise and simplicities of yesterday. The ancient, far eastern bluster of "Ghost Dance" rolls windswept and widescreen on the top of the mountain, doe-eyed and defiant against the howling wind and cold, cold rain. "I want to fight for the truth!" it calls. Elsewhere, "Sparkle" proves the album's lushest, most velvety pop moment. A sweet, spiralling melody, dance-yourself-dizzy drums and celestial, Debbie Harry-esque golden vocals. Earthbeat's fading light burns brightest though. The wistful, shimmery "Hideaway" pines divine and dreamy like the Cure's "Pictures of You". "You are alone and you've nothing left to lose" it exhales, tearfully watching the waves throwing themselves against the rocks below... and feeling low is the new high.
Certainly Earthbeat would've benefited from bolder contrast production-wise and feels a tad underfed with its modest half-hour spell, but it remains an endearingly sincere enchantment of swoonsome gloompop.