Artist: The 2 Bears
Title: Be Strong
Record Label: Southern Fried
London based indie-dance actThe 2 Bears are set to release their first full length album at the end of this month. Made up of Joe Goddard (of Hot Chip) and Raf Rundell, their music is increasingly hard to define. The duo’s original material is part house, part hip-hop, part soul and part 2-step. Their sound has been named by critics as “pop-hip-house”, “liquid-bmore-house-step” and “rave-garage”. The pair have already produced remixes for several established artists including Metronomy, Toddla T and The View.
Be Strong follows three EPs released during 2010 and 2011. Work, the first single from the album was released at the beginning of January and well received by radio DJs throughout the UK. Joe Goddard’s recognizable voice comes in over graduating keys, “you’ve gotta work harder, for each other, for the future my love”. The peak of the song sees a female vocalist come in whilst the synth sounds build and build. The Birds & The Bees opens with a funky, summery vibe incorporating percussion, xylophone, trumpet and slowed down synth sounds.
There’s almost too much going on at once, but the fusion isn’t overwhelming, if anything it’s uplifting. The ending sounds like the music from a merry-go-round put through distortion and leads into the bass heavy title track. Be Strong launches straight into the kind of bass lines and drum beats you’d expect from some of Hot Chip’s more underground contemporaries.
From there on in, the next ten tracks are as full of bass, beats and wobbly synth, but are also lined with narrative, soul and sensitivity. Bear Hug is a starker track with one key melody repeated throughout whilst a distorted voice sings “If all you wanna move, just get up on this groove and do the bear hug”. Warm & Easy is, as the title suggests, a warmer feeling, more chilled out track with Raf Rundell joining Goddard for the vocals.
The album really does cover a lot of genres, samba sounds carry Take A Look Around and Heart Of The Congos forward whilst a talk-y, story telling element is used in bothTime In Mind and Heart Of The Congos. Faith is almost purely instrumental, Get Together brings back the strong bass lines and Church and Faith both sample recordings like a hip-hop track at their intro. So, if I really had to classify The 2 Bear’s music I would file it away under the general dance bracket because if there’s one connector between all of the songs on Be Strong, it’s that they make you want to dance.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.