Deviating from the indie folk dalliances of predecessor, Huronian Cadence, Toronto-based Man meets Bear, explore a more spiritual side in their largely instrumental fifth album, I Want to Be a Gallant Rider Like My Father Was Before Me.
Released September 2016, the album flits between both world and post rock genres, collating natural and synthetic melodies with ‘pretty’ guitar motifs to create droning soundscapes. At times, inspiration seems drawn from traditional Indigenous music, invoking deep meditation and calm. This theme is heavily felt in title track “Lake Ontario Seiche,” as well as “Year of El Niño” and “Garrison Creek.”
The band however, pull back toward their indie roots on both “Niimi” and “Sun’s Back,” whose flirtation with dreamy folk tones and lo-fi are warmer, more inviting and less foreboding than the aforementioned ‘atmospheric’ tracks. These songs are reminiscent of Man meets Bear’s Dream BC, whose perfect balance of whimsy, wit and folk-pop charm made it a strong and intriguing debut, that played like a meeting of minds between peers Belle & Sebastian and The Polyphonic Spree.
But despite the efforts made in pursuing a more ethereal sound, I Want to Be a Gallant Rider Like My Father Was Before Me fails to offer anything of much interest. Instead, Soren Brothers (the artist behind Man meets Bear) chooses to meander aimlessly through half baked ideas that would be better served as interludes between more thought-out songs. Given the choice, I recommend Brothers’ second album, Buffalo Comets for its far more earnest and flexible reaches as an experimental album. In comparison, I Want to Be a Gallant Rider Like My Father Was Before Me paints itself into a rather dull, new age-y’ corner.