Boy & Bear – Harlequin Dream
The Australian Mumfords. Was there ever a less attractive marketing label? You can almost see the waistcoats. Smell the cloth caps. Hear the frenzied percussion. Imagine, then, an album from the band labeled the Australian Mumfords that sounds absolutely nothing like the pommie originals. (Except for the worryingly Mumfordesque track, ‘End Of The Line’). With singer
Marcus Mumford Dave Hoskins’ voice always high in the mix, Harlequin Dream is full of straight-up, hook-heavy, FM-friendly songs. It’s far and away the most enjoyable thing you could take out for a spin this January. (Except for ‘End Of The Line’). In a reminder that it’s summer in Australia, the opener, ‘Southern Sun’, is a breezy, sun-kissed gem of a track. Classic song structure. Great melody. What more could you ask for? Well, ‘Old Town Blues’ for one, which follows right on and keeps the tempo right up. ‘Real Estate’ switches electric for acoustic and has one of the most lovely, lilting choruses you’ll have heard for a long time. And ‘Arrow Flight’ brings things to a close with a funky electric piano line and another great refrain. It’s all more 70s-style rock than 00s nu-folk. (Except for ‘End Of The Line’). And this is exactly what the band are aiming for. On ‘Southern Sun’ Hoskins reveals that “As a child I was wonder-eyed at the thought that I might know, A life in the ecstasy of rock’n’roll”. And on ‘Bridges’ it’s a dream come true, because now, as he tells us proudly, but not without a nice note of irony, “I’m in a rock’n’roll band, That makes me more of a man, Didn’t you know?”. We’re pleased for him and it’s good for us too, because we get to hear such a bright and shiny album that it makes for a great escape from the northern hemisphere’s winter gloom. (Except for ‘End Of The Line’).