Bearcraft - Yestreen
Nick Lewis 22/08/2010
The lovely knitted jumper and elfen shoes displayed on the back cover might lead you to believe Yestreen to be a shimmering collection of nu-folk songs along the lines of Midlake or Fleet Foxes. But that would be to ignore the gold chain hanging inconspicuously from Bearcraft's woolly turtleneck.
In fact, the bear's craft is a natty line of dreamy 80s electro-pop. Mostly, it drifts along in a pleasant wash of vintage synthesizers and cheap drum machines with the occasional foray into discordant sci-topias; all overlaid with his wispy falsetto. Make no mistake, this is retro with not even a hint of futurism.
If someone played you 'Broadswords', with its Human League backing vocals and authentically nonsensical lyrics attempting a Burroughsian absurdity: “intravenous / windowcleaners”, you would be forgiven for thinking the world had stopped in 1982 and you had simply dreamt the last twenty-eight years.
The recreation of 80s electro-pop is so effective that it threatens to descend into a Mighty Boosh parody of itself. And were it delivered with a knowing hipster smirk cocooned in self-referential layers of irony, it would be immensely irritating, but one is left with the feeling that Bearcraft is a genuine nerd and wouldn't know how to affect the air of vacuous superiority necessary to cut it with La Roux et al.
One of the more derivative albums to emerge from the 80s revival, Yestreen is not going to change anyone's world. But that's not what records like this are for. If it achieves anything, it is to demonstrate that it is possible to love Tears For Fears and their contemporaries genuinely, unconditionally, and without a trace of knowing post-modernism.
Release date: Out now