Bear Driver - Bear Driver

Some of the most impressive modern pop writing of 2012.

Rating: 8

Frankly, it can be challenging detailing the minutia of a release when all you really want to do is scrawl ‘for God’s sake just listen to this’; a sentiment that’s definitely applicable to the eponymous debut album from Bear Driver. From opening track ‘Big Love’, with the frantic and endearing honesty of Johnny Foreigner, to the sun-soaked gorgeousness of ‘Impossible’, ‘Bear Driver’ is a record that’s practically bleeding with character.

Maybe it’s the fact that it was recorded live - in a disused swimming pool, by the by - but there are facets of ‘Bear Driver’ that will speak to several generations of pop fans of the last fifty years. While the writing is fantastically modern in places, with tints of contemporary American surf-pop making it stand out brilliantly as a new British release, the humming overall warmth of this album is endearingly reminiscent of something you could have stumbled across in a dusty box of LPs in your parents’ attic.

With dewdrop guitars and pattering percussion, ‘Never Never’ echoes the ornate loveliness of Real Estate, in contrast to the scuzzy roar of hellishly catchy ‘Let The Cold’ which follows it. ‘No Time To Speak’, however, truly stands out with an astonishing savvy for grungy pop writing. Straddling the gloriously hectic drums, purring 70s organ and a lot of joyful ooh-ing and ah-ing are distinctive lead vocals; Oli Deakin’s comfortingly familiar pipes are a blend of The Cure, the kamikaze style of Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke and the melancholic cooing of Elliott Smith all rolled into one, while an accompanying plethora of harmonies give the already genuine sound a convincing boost of camaraderie.

There’s just so much to this band’s writing; it’s noisy, it’s folky, it’s transatlantic to the point of occasionally sounding akin to Bright Eyes, it’s fuzzy and fantastically garage-influenced, it’s somehow nostalgic, and, most importantly, it’s utterly believable. The album could fit as a replacement to the typical 60s-revival soundtrack of any Wes Anderson film, and at the same time contains some of the most impressive modern pop writing of the year. It isn’t entirely unreasonable to think that Bear Driver - a name fittingly taken from a constellation of stars - may easily be a name you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future.