Album review: Boy & Bear – Harlequin Dream
Boy & Bear have travelled a long way since Dave Hosking hopefully strummed out the first few recordings for the project four years ago and posted them on the Unearthed website. He expanded his solo project into a duo, then a five piece, and then into a #2 charting, five-time-ARIA award winning juggernaut. Then he had to work out what to do next.
While debut record Moonfire owes an obvious debt to the likes of Fleet Foxes or Midlake, with its tight harmonies, folk leanings and Simon and/or Garfunkel wistfulness, Harlequin Dream has expanded upon these influences; hiding less in the shade, and embracing the sunshine. Bygone touchstones are there of course; Boy & Bear have never claimed to be reinventing the wheel, and the way this record slides from insular Laurel Canyon strumming to sun-speckled post-Manson ‘70s California makes historical sense, and for once it sounds like the band are having fun and stretching out, rather than steering blinkered through the focused (some would argue ‘limited) palette on their debut.
Harlequin Dream is an ambitious record, the type that will surprise naysayers while sating fans. In short, the band have made a pop record – it’s just not of the disposable kind.