Emotion, if not sonic, progress abounds
Leeza Isaeva
11:13 14th May 2022

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Blue Hours, the fourth album from British folk-rock band Bear’s Den, builds on existing strengths but has little to set it apart from the band’s previous records. Bear’s Den continue to combine their banjo sound with limited electronic experimentation, with the latter most evident in the opening of the album’s title track. Otherwise, the greatest deviation from their sound comes with the melodious but forgettable ‘Shadows’, arranged for a solo piano and strings by Sally Herbert.

‘Shadows’ is the track that deals with the theme of mental health most explicitly. Davie has referred to mental health as “the main overarching theme with this record”; the experience of the pandemic and parenthood forced the duo to confront change and communicate head-on. Whilst engaging in conversation about male mental health (having worked with the charity CALM), the vocabulary of mental health of ‘darkness’, ‘armies’, and ‘candles’ is predictable and overworked.

Nevertheless, Blue Hours excels with some moments of emotional complexity, such as the standout ‘Selective Memories’. Davie has previously written about his difficult relationship with his mother, and this track explores the delicate balance of experiencing his mother’s dementia at the same time as becoming a father. 

Their previous album was titled So that you might hear me, embodying uncertainty. The final track of Blue Hours, ‘All the Wrong Places’, ends with the reassurance that “I know exactly where I can find you”, an articulation of hope and connection. If not sonically, the emotional core of Blue Hours has moved on.

Blue Hours is out now.

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Photo: Press