With scorching temperatures making the news Down Under, now seems a perfect time to listen to sun-kissed country/folk-rock. For Australians Boy & Bear, it was a pretty sensible time to put out their second album Harlequin Dream. Full of folk-infused, day-dreaming happiness, it would work perfectly at a barbecue on the beach, or a late night stroll; however, fly 9,500 miles north-west, where the climate is somewhat different – and you have to ask, does the music still work?
Opener, ‘Southern Sun’ starts slowly, before acoustic, drums and a nifty little guitar riff combine. Simple harmonies join together in a way not too dissimilar to the trademark vocals ofNoah and the Whale, although they sound far too authentic to be the work of the Londoners-come-country bumpkins. The track paves the way for an upbeat album, with each song providing something different to listen to, from the hypnotic guitar riff on ‘Old Town Blues’, to the floating piano arrangement on ‘A Moments Grace’. The band have been able to capture the raw, original elements of country/folk music, and channel them into an album that retains a real sense of individuality.
Latest single ‘Three Headed Woman’ is typical, building as it does from a pounding, elemental drum opening to become a rollicking folk number, with vocalist Dave Hoskins’ soulful vocals evoking the same kind of raw emotion that Starsailor’s James Walsh used to such powerful effect in their debut. The rich blend of piano and acoustic guitars creates an anthemic sound, capitalised on even further by the distorted electric guitar solo that takes over one minute in.
So, does the music still work in a winters climate? Definitely. Boy & Bear’s creativity and versatility, evident throughout make Harlequin Dream, combine to make this a very enjoyable listen, even if it is a little nippy outside.
Harlequin Dream is out now via Netwerrk Productions.