Under Review

Bear Mountain

(Last Gang Records)

Review by Josefa Cameron

However underappreciated Bear Mountain may be within the local realm of Vancouver, their alien-meets-tribal hubbub has caught on with the music savvy across the globe. Having self-released their first EP only a year ago and after turning down major labels, the band has toured the major summer festivals, playing for mass amounts of sun-baked crowds, and even opened for Hot Chip on Lollapalooza’s big stage.

The electronic four-piece has proven themselves well-deserving of their achievements through the exuberant XO. The blog-flooding hype-machine hit “Two Step” plays in uplifting tranquility and lustful energy. The raw beats and luminous synths make for a whirlwind of intoxicated and dreamy party pop.

The band soars magically into “Congo,” a confident tune made to drive dancers into a mad, instinctual pulse. Deep bass lines, live instrumentation, scratchy vocals, bubbly guitar, bird chirps, echoed chanting, throbbing synths, it has it all. The listener is taken through heartfelt lyrics and danceable beats in “Survive” and “Faded.” A more tropical sound blended with a classy, Euro-tech mix seeps through “Swim.” You are reminded of summer heat waves, every hour of the night used to dance and jump around with a fruity cocktail in hand, and days spent swimming in the thick waves of the West Coast.

XO is concluded with a jazzy, intense number, “See You Through.” Mournful lyrics and a build up of psychedelic synths, guitars, and whiny screams of keys pound past like a mindfully distraught but dramatically motivating dream.

Consequently, the album sounds like a blend of the emotion of the National, less drowsy vocals of Chad Valley, the ease of Millionyoung, and ‘80s-driven energy like that of Goldroom. Bear Mountain knows how to make a sad listener’s blood boil in hope and dance to a rhythm so real it’s as though we are witnessing a live, tribal dance circle meet an alien electro band rise from the ash of ‘80s sass.