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Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Bears: Eureka!


1) Zelda Fitzgerald; 2) Veneer; 3) On; 4) Troubled Beauty; 5) Normal; 6) We Never Close; 7) Think; 8) Keep Your Own Counsel; 9) Idiot In The Sky; 10) Doodle; 11) Comin' Round The Mountain.

This must be some sort of tradition for The Bears now — alternate the release of one really fun pop album with the subsequent release of a really lacklustre one. You'd think that in between the six years that separate Eureka! from Car Caught Fire, the band members would have had the strength to come up with another fine batch of tunes — instead, what you get is about thirty minutes worth of something seriously undercooked, unmemorable, and just plain boring.

I have no idea what happened, but these ten songs (eleven, if you count the pretty, but fully dispensable cover of ʽComin' Round The Mountainʼ) do not move me in the least. The band is still there in its proper incarnation, with all four members dutifully supplying more or less equal shares of songs as they did on Car Caught Fire, but they are really boring, and I do mean really. This time, it all sounds like one of those yawn-inducing moralistic records by the Barenaked Ladies — every single song. Even Belew's three songs are generally subpar: ʽDoodleʼ has some funny falsetto harmonies, but is melodically repetitive, just a lazy vamp on a single jumpy-jerky distorted riff, and the other two sound like outtakes from some uninspired King Crimson session.

Most importantly, it's as if the fun factor was never there in the first place. This is serious-faced «intellectual pop» with a social / environmental message, mostly, but if it's intellectual, then where is the intellectual wish to come up with something new? For each of these songs, there are two or three Bears songs alone that say the same thing, let alone the output of other artists, and say it with more verve and energy. Eureka!? Really? As far as I understand, the exclamation that adequately conveys the atmosphere of the record is Oh, Shhhiiii...

It's not too tasteless or anything — it's vintage Bears, featuring all their trademarks, just none of their spontaneous wit and charm. In such situations, it is very hard to even begin to explain why one record is good and another one is bad, and I am not sure it is worth my time to really strain myself over the issue, so you'll have to just take my word on this. If you like The Bears for their overall style, you will probably want to disagree with me — if you are relatively indifferent to­wards their style, but care about their hooks, you probably won't. It is objectively telling, though, that (a) this record is so very short (so, obviously, they did not have too many ideas when they got together in 2007) and (b) the Bears have not reconvened ever since, even after Belew had finally been fired from King Crimson and gained as much free time on his hands as possible. After all, funny friendly lightning did strike twice on their behalf already, but now it seems like the game is finally over. No hard feelings whatsoever, but a thumbs down all the same.

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