Months before the release of Bear in Heaven’s third LP I Love You, It’s Cool, the band began streaming the album slowed down 400,000 percent on its website. The result is a ghostly drone that serves as a novel form of ambience for about ten minutes before it gets old and you put on some real music. While the 400,000-percent-faster version is now available, it’s not that different from the gimmicky website release — it makes for some decent background music more than anything else.
Bear in Heaven
I Love You, It’s Cool
That’s not to say the Brooklyn trio’s album doesn’t have its surprises. It requires numerous listens — the melodies appear slowly, shrouded in an overlay of looping synthesizers. The record has a sleek sound that mimics the blasé tone of its title, but its nonchalance is deceptive. As drummer Joe Stickney told online journal Frontier Psychiatrist, “These (songs) go through so many different iterations and you just break your ass working on it, and by the time you’re done, you’re unable to see or hear the record as other people might, just because you’ve seen all the guts.”
What Stickney described marks probably one of the most frustrating aspects of I Love You, It’s Cool — there are moments that seem to indicate that the band put a lot of effort and thought into the making of the record, but in the end, it’s not that amazing for outsiders looking in. It’s an all right album, it’s cool.
“Idle Heart” kicks off I Love You, It’s Cool with spacey whirrs and waves of synth that radiate and shift, the ’80s-era vocals of Jon Philpot soaring over everything else. But the song also includes additions of crunchy percussion and a bizarre 30-second stream of what sounds like a sped-up car alarm — a testament to Bear in Heaven’s ability to create a track that isn’t completely predictable.
Unfortunately, the majority of the album isn’t as striking. Most songs start strong, like the punchy synth of “Sinful Nature” and the electro patter of “The Reflection of You,” but become monotonous after a few minutes of the same tired hooks. It’s clear Bear in Heaven put in the hours and figurative ass-breaking — the layering is precise and increasingly complex as the songs progress, but it seems that the band is having a love affair with its own music and forgetting that there are listeners who may not be as committed.
There is one track that distinguishes itself from the electronic blur of I Love You, It’s Cool. “Sweetness & Sickness” progresses at its own leisure and maintains its cool using looping instruments and faint vocals. It continues for over six minutes, and it seems to resemble the methodology of Atlas Sound’s early bedroom recordings: repetitive as hell but unendingly enticing. Near the five minute mark, the song quiets down as if about to conclude, then fades back in for a minute with trilling synthesizers and bobbing phasers.
“Sweetness & Sickness” marks the end of I Love You, It’s Cool, resulting in a mix of conflicted emotions. The longest and least-enthusiastic song off the album manages to be the most alluring and memorable, while so many of the previous hook-enhanced tracks are just vague indie-pop memories. I Love You, It’s Cool is definitely a record worth being replayed, but the band might be more in love with the music than you are.