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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

5.3

Bearhug
Bill, Dance, Shiner

Bearhug's 2008 demo, Cartoon Islands, is one of the better local records of the past ten years. I know how ridiculous that claim might sound — especially considering this decade also saw the release of The Vines' Melodia and Art Vs Science's four-disc Just The Hits compilation — but Bearhug's mixture of nerdy, post-teenage uncertainty and raw bedroom production melted together in such an unforced manner that the record is surely destined for future top shelf reservation. Each of the eight short tracks sound like they dripped straight out of the confused mind of a young suburbanite, opening his eyes for the first time and attempting to apply his inherited bookworm wisdom to the promising world that lay in front of him.

Primarily powered by a knife edge delicacy, yet guided throughout by an amazing sense of control, Cartoon Islands presented a band completely formed, not requiring external guidance or any strapped-on funnels for their unrestrained emotion and wandering instrumentation. They knew their sound and were capable of effectively piecing it all together. Mature, structurally unpredictable and exciting, well beyond their underdeveloped experience. There was even a song about the amazingly adequate Macintosh operating system Snow Leopard.

Unfortunately, there's very little of that band left on their debut album Bill, Dance, Shiner.

But in place of songs more fragile than a Hopetoun Hotel rental continuance plan, there's a much greater sense of completeness. Bits that used to jangle have been tightened, sloppily arranged elements that previously scattered themselves carelessly have now been reeled in, harshly reprimanded and positioned back in their correct place. Guitars aim for points of grandeur at the appropriate times, solos never step out of line, vocals and music skip down the road together, arm-in-arm, kissing each other gently on the cheek/s, happy to be so closely connected. This is a neatly packaged adventure, inoffensively neutral and restrained. So much so that on one of a few occasions where there's a spanner thrown into the composition — the heavy building distortion on Cherry Red — it's necessary to pause the music to make sure it's not simply mashing itself together with the autoplay functionality on one of the many MySpace pages you probably have open.

While destined to take their re-constructed sound to greater heights, it's unfortunate that Bearhug have seen it necessary to sideline so many of their endearing qualities to do so. This isn't a terrible record, it's just an uneventful one. Meanwhile, even now, Cartoon Islands has the strength to send shivers up my spine, making the decision on what I'm going to reach for when someone says "how about you throw on some bloody Bearhug mate" a fairly easy on.

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Record Reviews
Bearhug

 

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Comments

glugger

Thanks for reminding me to listen Cartoon Islands again. One of the best releases of the decade is by no means an overstatement.

1 decade ago

Crowens

Anyone know where I can get my hands on Cartoon Islands? Lost it when my computer crashed and now they've removed the free download link.

1 decade ago

Jonny Yes Yes

uploaded it for ya @crowens

http://etcetcawesome.com/cunts/Cartoon-Islands.zip

1 decade ago

chrisrigney

Good review m8.

1 decade ago

Howling_OX

Thanks for the Upload

1 decade ago

Crowens

sorry for the lateness,, but thanks for the upload! great ep. sweet review too.

1 decade ago

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