For the moment that means Boy & Bear are in limbo, denied the major commercial success that can only really be gained upon the release of a full length album. With Emperor Antartica though, there is enough to give us an idea of what’s to come, and its reassuring that they’re in competent hands with Chiccarell.
The EP opens with ‘Blood To Gold’ a drivey shuffle with a minor progression and impressive vocal line. It’s a perfect introduction to the EP, showcasing all of Boy & Bear’s skills in melodic construction and harmonic arrangement. Due to the shortening attention span of listeners, radio stations these days are always on the lookout for something short and catchy, and ‘Blood to Gold’ fits the mould perfectly, standing at a measly 2:17. It’s an instantly likeable opener. The opening minute and a half of ‘Rabbit Song’ showcases the band’s impressive minimalist style, where they hold back from kicking out and experiment instead with vocal harmonies and drum lines. This may just be just what separates Boy & Bear from other like-sounding Australian artists.
‘Mexican Mavis’ is the EP’s single, and is an obvious choice for its catchy verse instrumentation and memorable chorus. Its multi-part harmonies are very reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, and its no wonder this was the song that first attracted label and radio attention. ‘The Storm’ and ‘The Rain’, the last songs of the EP, aren’t as accessible as the first three, owing to their drawn out melodies and duration. They are nonetheless strong, and can be seen to be examples of a young band spreading their wings as they journey towards the perfect balance of commercialism and artistic integrity.
The future looks bright for the Boys and their pet Bear. They’ve got all the makings of becoming the next big thing; backing from a major label, a successful debut EP, a good producer lined up to record their first LP and a sound that people like to hear. I think they’ll do well if they up the ante for their first full-length, maybe bring in some more electric guitars and more epic choruses. The problem with indie-folk is that it has the tendency to verge on the dreary and dull, and it can be tempting to think of its exponents as vague, flower-power hippies that won’t turn up their guitars for the fear of a) waking up their parents, b) using too much of the Earth’s electricity and c) hurting their ears. Thankfully Boy & Bear haven’t done that yet, and I hope they don’t as they move further into the centre of the limelight. With their EP With Emperor Antartica they certainly prove they have the potential to do great things.
Highlights :: "Blood to Gold", "Mexican Mavis"