Spirit of the Bear Resurfaces on Self-Titled Album
I admittedly first discovered Spirit of the Bear through their sister act, Ghost Soul Trio. GST wasted no time setting a high bar, and while SotB continues in a slightly different vein, the same level of musical mastery is most certainly evident here.
Spirit of the Bear’s self-titled record is one of the first albums to come out this year, and it feels like a precarious time to release an album. However, after being already delayed for a year, the band finally committed. And we certainly have reason to celebrate. When it feels like 2020 is the first part of a box set, SotB provide a bit of respite from outside turmoil.
Per usual SotB flaunt their prowess over technical, dreamy indie rock. There are hints of funk, R&B, and surf mixed with a base of pop for a result that plays equally to casual fans and Reddit snobs.
Frontman James Harker does not disappoint. His trademark falsetto adorns this album like a king in purple, and there are plenty of moments where vocal takes are stacked, culminating to ethereal bliss.
SotB is perhaps less zany than Ghost Soul Trio in some ways (and arguably Ghost Soul Trio is a band where their personality alone might as well be a fourth member), but even in the case of less-experimental tracks, Harker and crew still craft some captivating melodies and complex rhythms.
This time around, the band has produced what could be largely described a collection of songs to make love to. There’s a certain sensuality and dreaminess at play, paired with ever-so-specific synth tones and drums.
All in all, the album is diverse, but there’s just enough common DNA to keep things cohesive. Again, mood is the primary element here. It’s a narrow dynamic that keeps any single track from feeling out of place or too divergent.
“IDKATAY” is a sure highlight in the mix—guest vocals from Aaliyah Lashaun have me wondering why she isn’t a full member of the band.
The studio was a critical component of this album, especially when it comes to vocal processing. The mix is buttery, and everything feels professional and intentional.
Spirit of the Bear may be a bit more relaxed that Ghost Soul Trio, but rest assured all of the talent and nuance is just as pronounced. If you’re looking for a warm album to break from the harsh winter winds or something to calm your mind during these uncertain days, this album will not disappoint.