‘Tricky Second Album’ syndrome doesn’t just affect long suffering artists – fans are equally prone. You know the cause and effect: playing a band’s first LP so much that you can’t wait for the new album, and yet you’re simultaneously dreading it. You want the new songs to be exactly the same as the old ones but paradoxically be totally different and, of course, better. It’s no wonder so many follow-ups crumble under the weight of such demands.
It was with such worries that I apprehensively approached Red Earth & Pouring Rain. However, London-born, two-piece Bear’s Den have smacked my usual concerns out of the park with their second full length outing, which is a spellbinding collection of some truly majestic music.
From the apologies of the hypnotic opening title track (“you can count on me, to fuck up everything”), through to the bitter begging of album closer ‘Napoleon’ (“you said the same shit yesterday…”) and the ten songs in between, BD have produced a totally entrancing piece of work. It’s difficult to pick stand out tracks from such a collection but the sheer beauty of ‘Roses on a Breeze’, ‘Gabriel’ and ‘Greenwoods Bethlehem’ will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Plus, if ‘Love Can’t Stand Alone’ doesn’t reduce you to a whimpering wreck then you have no pulse.
RE&PR isn’t perfect, ‘Dew on the Vine’ tries just a little too hard to be US radio friendly and the lengthy album run-time of 60 mins may be off-putting to many. Still, BD have somehow mixed their alt-folk roots (the Red Earth?) with drum machines and layers of synths (the, you guessed it, Pouring Rain?) to fashion a rare album of depth and quality that deserves to be heard floating from a million open windows during whatever’s left of summer, and then repeated on a million sets of headphones as the days shorten.
With this in mind, that ‘Difficult Third Album’ should be an absolute piece of piss.
Check out ‘Auld Wives’ below:
Red Earth & Pouring Rain is out now