Bear vs. Shark

Right Now, You're in the Best of Hands

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Bear vs. Shark's debut is a cage match between volatility and anticipation. Visceral squalls of guitar swirl over triumphant drum fills in the sweltering heat of "Ma Jolie" and "Campfire," whipping the songs into an angular frenzy that suggests June of 44 after a bottle of mini thins. But anticipation isn't going to give up that easy. "MPS" sees vocalist Marc Paffi flying off the turnbuckle with a fresh supply of fabulously wordy lyrics ("These are landmine carburetors," "Your crutch and your cross, your voltage your watts") and a smoky-voiced sensuality that hesitates at all the right moments. The blousy minor-chord strum of "MPS"' lone guitar then gives way flawlessly to the hopeful rush of "Second," and all of a sudden, seven rounds into the match, volatility and anticipation have shaken hands in the middle of the ring, united by Paffi's earnest yelp and guitars that never wander too far into sideways indie rock land to forget about uplifting melody or honest, good-old rocking. Both "Buses/No Buses" and "Don't Tell the Horses the Stable's on Fire" belch forth with jury-rigged rock riffs that still manage to hit with proper gut-wrenching fury. (In fact, the guitar line that unifies the former bears a strong resemblance to Eddie Van Halen's memorable riff from "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love.") Right Now, You're in the Best of Hands certainly sheds pounds of skin-shredding emotion during its duration. But like the early emo experiments of Rites of Spring, the source of such sentiment can get obscured behind the very same obtuse lyricisms and freely shifting, often punishing instrumentation that make Bear vs. Shark's sound work so well. Put another way, it can take a few listens of Bear vs. Shark's debut before you're able to pick a side to root for.

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