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Bear in Heaven Get Astral on Space Jam ‘Time Is Over One Day Old’

Bear in Heaven / Photo by Dusdin Condren
SPIN Rating: 7 of 10
Release Date: August 05, 2014
Label: Dead Oceans

Combining chillwave, psychedelia, Krautrock, shoegaze, synthpop, and a few other amorphous genres, Bear in Heaven nevertheless boast a highly particular vibe—the yearning of lonely astronaut children who’ve somehow lost their mothers amongst the stars. Featuring billowing waves of syrupy synths, reverb-addled guitars, rubber room basslines, and unconventional but generally danceable live drums all orbiting around the gentle tenor of leader Jon Pilpot, this Brooklyn trio thrives in that sweet spot between poppy and freaky, accessible and alien: Call it Top 40 on Uranus.

On their fourth album, their first featuring drummer Jason Nazary, BiH nudge up the killer-to-filler ratio while still acting like they’ve got nothing better to do than float on their tin cans. Time Is Over One Day Old seems to move faster than their previous albums because it’s slightly but crucially catchier. “Autumn” opens the set with throbbing bass booms, rolling tom-toms, and a flurry of synth wasps. “Time Between” balances thunderous low-end rumbling with alternately chiming and roaring guitar. Nazary adds just the right amount of variation and irregular accents while generating booty-moving beats that suggest club music without being confined to it: On “If I Were to Lie,” he snaps out a jaunty funk march while Pilpot initially reigns in the synths then slowly spools them out while guitarist/bassist Adam Wills struts with his four-string. The bottom booms like dub; the top oozes ambient haze.

This cosmic slop will likely never make Bear in Heaven famous: Pilpot’s little boy cry stays a little too same-y, his lyrics rarely convey a distinct personality, and the ursine threesome’s melodies aren’t as memorable as those of, say, Tame Impala. But Time is nothing if not consistent. Featuring 10 tracks of gooey, dislocated goodness, its gravity-free atmospherics are just right for soundtracking summer moon treks, intergalactic windsurfing, and asteroid volleyball. Down to earth it is not: These deep but compact space jams can’t get much higher.