Bear in Heaven

Red Bloom of the Boom

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Starting with a scraggly shimmer that sounds like a cross between a dying keyboard and an alarm drone from the robot wars (whenever they'll be fought), Red Bloom of the Boom gets this much right at the start -- it's not another tunefully epic guitar production for indie rock dreamers, and for that listeners should all be duly grateful. If anything, Bear in Heaven sound enjoyably out of place, with their obvious love for whatever post-rock became in the late '90s transmuted into immediate but not dumbed-down catchiness; lead figure Jon Philpot's soft register doesn't sound like a wistful waif so much as an underrated figure like Butterfly Child's Joe Cassidy (if at times crossed with Doug Martsch's reflective dreaminess, but at least he never sounds like he's going to start putting together mix CD-Rs based on Wes Anderson soundtracks). The seven songs on Red Bloom of the Boom continually shift around, playing the soft/loud card in a way that doesn't sound anything like nth-generation Pixies or Nirvana -- if it's not anywhere near Miles Davis and Teo Macero cutting up hours of tapes for their own purposes, at least it acknowledges other ways of songwriting. Cleverer standouts include "Slow Gold," with its touching on everything from soft harmonies to slashing rock doom, and "Fraternal Noon," all ominous drone mystery with a calm vocal glaze over the top. Meanwhile, more straightforward songs like "Werewolf" (soft start, loud midsection, soft conclusion) and "Shining and Free," if they verge on simply being there rather than getting and holding the attention, still flow nicely enough with the rest of the album. On the whole, Red Bloom of the Boom, if it won't immediately stand out in today's music universe, deserves attention as a calm pleasure.

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