Bearfoot Beware – Bruises and Business EP Review
Here is music to get excited about. Having recently caught these guys live at Quidrophenia, I was curious to see how Bearfoot Beware‘s utterly unrestrained stage energy translated to their recorded material. If even half of that could be captured, and to be honest I wasn’t sure how it could possibly be so contained, the EP has the potential to be awesome. I am happy to report my doubts were totally unfounded. Bruises and Business rocks hard, and with all the originality and mathy structural playfulness anyone who knows Bearfoot has come to expect.
‘Trellum’ is a perfect introduction, coming in with an immediate crashing noise before going into their typically fat-sounding guitar and bass noodling. Tom’s vocals sound stronger than ever, coming through loud and clear over the punchy staccato chords and Ric’s roaming bassline. ‘Fox Boy’ is Bearfoot at their discordant best, going from loud to quiet and back again with reckless abandon, and never quite where you expect them to. There is always just enough regularity to keep your head nodding (or -banging, as it should be) but beats seem to disappear into the ether as unexpected and beautifully pulled off shifts in tone occur. ‘My Love Is A Seagull’ finds them at a more contemplative, melancholy moment before the white noise rises and takes them to an angrier, aggressive place, bringing the EP to a resounding and affecting close.
The most noticeable difference between their manic live shows and the record is how the dichotomy between their two split personalities works. On record, their admittedly unhinged pop sensibility is more apparent with their mathy hardcore heart propelling things along; live you get the more aggressive converse. This is no compromise, however. The record stands as a way to greater appreciate the intense intricacies of their contrapuntal melodies, something easily missed in the live maelstrom. The instruments dance around each other like combatants in a boxing ring, forever shifting positions and trying to sound each other out. And when the songs come to blows of ramped up gain and distortion, as they not infrequently do, the audience reels while Bearfoot power on. The ‘Bruises’ element of the EP title couldn’t be more apt. There isn’t a more fitting word for the feeling you get while listening to their more pounding sections.
Throughout the tracks the drums of Mike Osborne never rest for a moment, with the kind of effortless constant rolling and roaming of the kit Jeremiah Green of Modest Mouse was always so unimitably (until now) good at. You can appreciate the effort that goes into his loose-sounding but forever tight drumming better on record, that little bit more audible than in the melee (and it is a melee) of their live shows. In fact, the same goes for every instrument. There isn’t a second of track time wasted. The fact that so much thought clearly goes into these songs while still managing to make them come out the other end of this process sounding so chaotically organic is a real show of skill.
All of what has been said above is just a long-winded way of saying the following: Bruises and Business is awesome, a musical shot in the arm for anyone losing faith in what modern guitar bands are capable of and a great introduction to Bearfoot Beware’s uniquely inventive punchy mathpunk.
Bruises and Business is out on Mountains of Records with an EP Launch Party at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, bringing it kicking and screaming into the world on 2nd October. Entry is free, leaving you no excuse to not attend and check these guys out for yourselves. The sensitively earred: bring earplugs. They are very very loud.