Words by Sam Townsend // IG : @meltingwax_photography
Australian indie-folk champions Boy & Bear have been a favourite of music lovers since their debut album ‘Moonfire’ in 2011. With their unique blend of folk, rock, and pop, the band has continued to captivate audiences with their soulful melodies and introspective lyrics. Now, with their latest self-titled release, Boy & Bear continues to explore new sounds while staying true to their signature style. Boy & Bear’s self-titled album is a masterclass in indie-folk rock which showcases the band’s musical growth and evolution. The Australian quintet’s fifth album is a carefully crafted and brilliantly executed piece of work that is infused with personal experiences, introspection, and emotional depth.
Formed in 2009, Boy & Bear have become known for their intricate harmonies, emotive lyrics, and beautiful instrumentation. The band’s debut album, ‘Moonfire’, was released in 2011, and was a commercial and critical success, earning the band 5 ARIA Awards. The band went on to release three more albums, ‘Harlequin Dream’ (2013), ‘Limit of Love’ (2015), and ‘Suck on Light’ (2019). The band’s music is often described as indie-folk, though their sound is much more complex than that; they often incorporate elements of rock, pop, and even electronic music into their songs, creating a sound that is both unique and compelling.
Boy & Bear‘s new self-titled album is a departure from the band’s previous work, and is a stunning collection of songs which showcase their growth as musicians and songwriters. The album is a confident and cohesive statement from a band who has been honing their craft for over a decade.
The opening track of the upcoming album, titled Strange World, explores the profound experience of grappling with the challenges of navigating an unjust world, where nothing appears to be fair. The song captures the essence of Australia with its chorus of cicadas, though also marks the band’s return and showcases a blend of warbling synth and psychedelic elements to create a comforting atmosphere. As the song unfolds, it gradually builds into a harmonious groove. The lyrics delve into the relatable experience of grappling with an unfair world; fitting given this is Boy & Bear’s first album since the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we persevere, finding solace in the moments of joy and forging ahead with resilience and unwavering determination.
Lead single State of Flight garnered several positive reviews when it was released, highlighted by its dreamy atmosphere, captivating vocals, and heartfelt message. The song effortlessly combines fluttering vocal chants, ethereal keys, and delicate plucks, all grounded by a pulsating bassline and beats that drive the song forward. Frontman Dave Hosking‘s vocals shine throughout the track, reaching a blissful falsetto during the climactic moments as he passionately declares his desires: “And I never really wanted money, I never really needed love. The only thing that I had ever wanted was everything that I dreamed of.” His delivery captures both immediacy and emotional depth, adding an extra layer of resonance to the lyrics. Hosking explained State of Flight serves as “a love letter to the arts and the joy of creativity”, an important message given the challenges musicians have faced recently. Despite these hardships, the band’s genuine love for the creative process remains unwavering, as reflected in the song’s heartfelt and uplifting tone. The track maintains Boy & Bear‘s signature sound while showcasing the band’s growth and evolution. State of Flight stands as a testament to Boy & Bear‘s continued ability to craft captivating and introspective music.
As we delve further into the album, Boy & Bear continue to showcase their versatility as musicians, incorporating elements of rock, folk, and even electronic music. There are anthemic rock songs which wouldn’t sound out of place on a stadium stage, while others are dreamy, atmospheric ballads showcasing the band’s more delicate side. This is perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the album; the ability of Boy & Bear to create a cohesive album. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, and the album as a whole tells a story. The lyrics are introspective and relatable, and the band’s signature harmonies are present throughout the album.
For me personally, the album’s standout single is Just To Be Kind – an uplifting and optimistic song driven by a bouncy rhythm, soaring harmonies, and a catchy chorus. The song is a heartfelt and emotionally resonant track exploring the complexities of love and the bittersweet necessity of letting go. With poignant lyrics and a tender musical arrangement, Just To Be Kind captures the raw emotions and vulnerability that come with navigating the delicate balance between affection and acceptance, beautifully conveying the internal struggle of wanting what is best for someone even if it means sacrificing your own desires. Through the evocative vocals and thoughtful instrumentation, Boy & Bear effectively convey the inherent tension and tenderness of the subject matter. Just To Be Kind really showcases Boy & Bear‘s ability to craft deeply affecting songs which resonate with listeners on an emotional level.
Overall, Boy & Bear‘s self-titled album is a triumph showcasing the band’s musical maturity and growth. From their debut in 2011 with ‘Moonfire’, the Australian indie-folk champions have consistently captivated audiences with their soulful melodies and introspective lyrics. Now, with their latest release, Boy & Bear continue to evolve while staying true to their signature style. The self-titled album is a cohesive and well-crafted piece of work that is both catchy and emotionally resonant, and flows seamlessly from track to track, telling a story. Hosking‘s vocals are a standout on this album, as he displays a range and depth that is truly impressive. Boy & Bear‘s instrumentation is also impressive, as they create richly textured and sonically dense songs that are a pleasure to listen to. It’s an album which will appeal to fans of the band’s previous work, as well as new listeners who are looking for a fresh take on indie-folk music.
BOY & BEAR ALBUM RELEASE EVENTS
BOY & BEAR IN-STORE APPEARANCES
Friday May 26 – Rocking Horse Records, Brisbane – 5:30pm
Monday May 29 – Red Eye Records, Sydney – 1:00pm
Wednesday May 31 – Oh Jean Records, Melbourne – 1:00pm
BOY & BEAR AU / NZ TOUR DATES
TICKET INFO HERE
Friday June 16 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne VIC
Saturday June 17 – The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane QLD
Friday June 23 – San Fran, Wellington NZ
Saturday June 24 – Powerstation, Auckland NZ
Friday June 30 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
Friday July 14 – Perth Concert Hall, Perth WA
Saturday July 15 – Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide SA
‘BOY & BEAR’ (LP) IS OUT NOW
BUY / STREAM HERE
With thanks to Thinking Loud