Messing Around with Sound
From hazy waves of synth and soaring pop choruses, Bear in Heaven’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth emerges. The Brooklyn-based band, founded by vocalist Jon Philpot, has a big sound that is at once enveloping and atmospheric, sonically expanding in waves of ambient noise.
“Beast in Peace” starts the album off with marching percussion and Philpot’s airy, ethereal tenor. The song builds, culminating in an anthemic poppy refrain of rolling shoegaze guitars. This type of dynamic structure reappears throughout the record, making the music endlessly blend and shift. The band toys with stylistic variations as well, moving from “Beast in Peace” to the danceable “Wholehearted Mess.” Its slick guitar bends slide over a subdued bass and heavy synth lines, pinning the song together with layers of simple melodies.
“You Do You” explores a dark sonic atmosphere, combining spacey effects and synth rock into a psychedelic romp. Along with “Dust Cloud” and “Drug a Wheel,” it explores a futuristic sound, advancing and retreating in a dreamy, half-obscured landscape. The band use similar techniques to devise the quasi-western showdown tone of “Deafening Love,” subtly building into a brooding wave of descending basslines and Philpot’s spectral intonations.
“Lovesick Teenagers” is arguably the best song on Beast Rest Forth Mouth. It’s almost a defining theme of the record—the rocking synth melody, simple and memorable, is punctuated by swaying, minimalist percussion. In the chorus, the band’s propensity for electronic effects comes in, amplifying the sound so it swells into the kind of big, unpretentious psych-pop chorus Bear in Heaven excels at writing. “Lovesick Teenagers” even makes a reappearance in the final track, “Casual Goodbye.” Materializing from the haze, it creates a cyclical feeling and a thematic sort of denouement.
The remixes released with the expanded edition of Beast Rest Forth Mouth don’t mesh together quite so well. The band’s abstract psychedelic sound easily lends itself to the plying hands of DJs and techno beats—The Hundred and the Hands’ version of “Beast in Peace” and Pink Skull’s “Wholehearted Mess” transform the originals into disco-ready dance jams, built on undercurrents of throbbing bass and percussion. Yet the craft, cohesiveness, and fluidity that distinguish the record simply can’t be preserved when re-envisioned by ten different musicians with individual styles. It’s an interesting experiment, but Beast Rest Forth Mouth is novel enough on its own.