Album Review: The 2 Bears - 'Be Strong'

10 February 2012 | 3:01 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Unassuming dance beats and British vocal charm.

Be Strong is the debut album from The 2 Bears, an electronic/dance duo comprising of Joe Goddard (of Hot Chip fame) and Raf Rundell.

The ambient opener ‘The Birds & The Bees’ is a laid-back tune that begins with light guitar and never gets too energetic. Apart from the drum track, the defining elements of this song are the entertaining xylophone and horns hooks which blend into each other and form the focal point for a song that goes without vocals.

Title track ‘Be Strong’ is certainly suited for a rave and is our first introduction to the band’s vocals. It begins immediately with the fairly ambiguous refrain: “Give the music all your loving”, and is followed by a driving drum track that sees this song become immediately danceable, especially through it’s dance-clap chorus.

Bear Hug is an infectious tune made noticeable by baritone-mixed vocals coyly insisting for us all to “Have a bear hug”. The 2 Bears experiment with all sorts of instrument backing on the album that always lead to a drum track and often a pop-infused chorus vocal, as in the piano based ‘Work’.

Be Strong will not necessarily be an instant hit with listeners and requires time to appreciate the beats and its British, half-spoken vocal charm. ‘Increase Your Faith promises to build somewhere but never really does and ‘Heart of the Congos’ requires patience as it takes time to develop.

However, The 2 Bears make it clear throughout their album that they don’t want to be some type of raucous, dance ragers. The track ‘Get Together is extremely appealing and danceable without ever getting out of first gear, utilizing just the right combination of soothing lyrics and a pop hook.

Church’, uses several vocalists layered over each other and becomes one of the fullest sounding tracks on the album. An uplifting call of: “Hey now, hey now, let’s get up together” and a reprise of exotic xylophone make for a fun end to the album and a testament to what The 2 Bears are about.

‘Be Strong’ is an appealing debut with several addictive dance hooks and pop refrains but it will take some time to grow on listeners. Some will take one listen and find the album underwhelming but if others can be convinced to give it a second go, that is when the unassuming beats and once-off bridges can reveal their charm and also when The Two Bears reveal their talent.

1. The Birds & The Bees
2. Be Strong
3. Bear Hug
4. Work
5. Warm & Easy
6. Take a look Around
7. Ghosts & Zombies
8. Time in Mind
9. Increase Your Faith
10. Heart of the Congos
11. Get Together
12. Church
13. Shakedown