Boy & Bear – Harlequin Dream
Australia’s Boy and Bear – a seriously big deal down under – will be instantly familiar to fans of Band of Horses and Midlake on this their second album. Alas, that’s the problem with Harlequin Dream. It’s frustratingly derivative and not even in a lazy way. The sweeping strings on Southern Sun, banjo plucks on Real Estate and uplifting backing vocals on Old Town Blues are too studied, too well-placed.
In a certain light this album could be perfect – it’s immaculately produced and arranged and Dave Hoskings has a warm and welcoming voice, but where Fleet Foxes et al succeed is making their modern songwriting naturally sound like it’s from a different time. Boy & Bear have tried to force the issue and come up short. Followers of the aforementioned Horses and Foxes may well find something to enjoy here, but those seeking more of a challenge would do well to look elsewhere.