On 20th October, up and coming band Bear’s Den released their debut album Islands following a successful European tour, which included London’s Tabernacle venue. The trio is made up of guitarist Andrew Davies, Banjo-playing Joey Haynes and drummer Kevin Jones, each sharing the vocals with equal weight. Armed with a strong set list of mesmerising and intimate acoustic tracks, Bear’s Den have created an album which is as gentle as it is hard-hitting. Islands is full of passion and heartache, effectively conveyed through the trio’s musical talent.
If you have not previously listened to Bear’s Den, it is hard to imagine how they could be truly unique. This being said, ‘Agape’ introduces you to Islands and you are immediately greeted with a gentle banjo progression and light percussion which sets the tone for the song and album. The woeful atmosphere leaves the listener emotionally vulnerable as Bear’s Den sing of the thought of losing a loved one, known as ‘Agape’. The track represents the raw tone that makes Bear’s Den unique and sets the gentle tempo and melancholy atmosphere which radiates from Islands.
The tone of Bear’s Den flows throughout the rest of Islands and tracks such as ‘Above the Clouds of Pompeii’ and ‘Stubborn Beast’ highlight this beautifully. The more heavily folk-sounding ‘Magdalene’ is a key point on the album, and emphasises the band’s abilities to produce a nostalgic, country-sounding track. It is perfectly positioned and breaks up the otherwise consistent sound of Bear’s Den.
When the album nears its conclusion, you are exposed to ‘When You Break’. This can only be described as the experimental song that exists within many albums that doesn’t necessarily fit the status quo. With a slightly more atmospheric electrical emphasis, the otherwise undisturbed acoustic sound of Bear’s Den is somehow lost. This being said, it cannot be seen as a negative but instead demonstrates the diversity of Bear’s Den compositional talents.
All in all, Islands is a perfect demonstration of a debut album from an upcoming band that deserve more recognition than they currently have. By continuing with their unique modernized-acoustic sound, it is not hard to imagine that Bear’s Den will only continue to increase their growing fan base. Perfect for calming background music when working or catching up with friends, Islands is an album I highly recommend spending some time listening to.
Islands is out now via Communion Records.