Bear's Den are a trio that we here at Stereofox have been pretty much in love with since the first play way back when. They have a charismatic charm and childlike innocence that can't help but shine through in the music they make - something that's been a mainstay of their personality since the band's inception in 2012. After EP's "Within/ Without" and "Agape", their debut album Islands comes at a time where the music we listen to is seemingly becoming more and more layered, synthesized and severe, mirroring the ostensibly bleak times we live in. Bear's Den strip all that away to focus on the core of each song, giving them arguably one of the best folk releases of 2014.
You would of course expect a band who take their name from the kid's picture book "Where The Wild Things Are" to produce something entirely more simplistic. A collective that harks to love and wonder over intolerance and anger. Andrew Davie, the founder and vocalist/ guitarist of Bear's Den states that "Where The Wild Things Are appeals to us because it offers a dual perspective of seeing the world through both a kid's and adult's eyes" which really helps you get into the mindset of the band when they penned songs like "Above the Clouds Of Pompeii" (originally an EP track just called "Pompeii"). Other tacks too, pay heed to the complex relationships between children and adults and how each side see's the conflict. "Isaac" is a softly sung ode from parent to child about unconditional love and the strains it can produce, culminating in the touching choral line "I'm gonna give all my love to you".
The religious aspects that permeate through songs like "Magdalene" serve to be provocative without ever being overbearing. Davie states that he wanted the songs to be left largely to the listeners own interpretations to help deepen the connection people have to the tracks, and it's something that really works across the whole album. "Bad Blood" and the remarkably heartbreaking coming-of-age anthem "Elysium" also feature in the latter half of Islands, which will no doubt be music to the ear's of fans (pun definitely intended).
All things considered, this is a truly beautiful landscape of work. Hopeful and inquisitive, it's an album that will absolutely be the benchmark for folk music in the future. Islands is set for release on October 20th and will be accompanied by UK dates as well as a North West American tour. Check out their website for more details and be sure to follow the link at the top to download your own copy of Islands. I promise you won't regret it.