The 2 Bears – Be Strong The 2 Bears – Be Strong

The 2 Bears - Be Strong

The 2 Bears are Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell – club promoter and DJ. Having written and recorded Be Strong over a shared love of disco and house music, it’s clear that the duo have certainly had a good time making this record. After a few listens, another theme starts to reveal itself. Goddard has stated in recent interviews that the project is more about passion than direction, “The 2 Bears’ music has a big heart, even if there isn’t a clear manifesto”. This is a pretty apt summary of Be Strong: the album plays out in the same sort of way that an enthusiastic new housemate might show you his record collection; it’s fun and welcoming – but if you’re someone who’s into their music, probably nothing you haven’t heard or seen before. But the key word is fun, and regardless of the fact that it has one eye on the past, Be Strong is a hoot.

From the sprightly chimes on “The Birds & the Bees” (an opener so chirpy it sounds like a level theme tune on Crash Bandicoot), Be Strong tugs at those nostalgia strings, as is fitting for an album being put out by DFA. There’s slow burning disco on “Take A Look Around”, house music via a 70’s ska club on “Heart of the Congos”, and tender Blur-esque balladry on “Time In Mind.” One criticism that could be levelled at the pair despite such eclecticism are the vocals, which is easily explained. Joe Goddard has a wonderfully rich voice, and a very recognisable one at that- Raf Rundell has neither; a fairly generic London accent over songs which are meant to be big on heart means that some tracks can fall a bit flat.

Despite the vocals, the duo regularly show off a knack for toe-tapping songwriting – something that Goddard should still be familiar with, regardless of his dire recent Hot Chip output. “Work” for example is a euphoric weekend anthem. Its lyrical content? Drink? Drugs? Not in the land of the 2 Bears- “We gotta work, work harder/ for each other, for the future /my love we’ve gotta work”. Similarly on the soul-searching “Time In Mind”, Rundell laments a mental prison, “Time in mind, it should be an easy thing to do/you’re not in a cell, there ain’t no screws/ but you’ll find your conscious giving it to you.”

The best parts of Be Strong are summed up on the title track. A music nerd’s theme tune, “Some people tell you what to listen to, spend their whole life saying this or that is cool”, it even has a “Losing My Edge” moment with shout outs for Wu Tang Clan, Toddla T, Steely Dan and the Beach Boys to name but a few. It’s funky, a bit silly and it will almost certainly get stuck in your head. It’s Be Strong summed up in one.

1. Birds & Bees
2. Be Strong
3. Bear Hug
4. Work
5. Warm and 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. Bear Hug (Maxxi Soundsystem Remix) [bonus track]

The 2 Bears - Be Strong, reviewed by Lemon on 2012-03-08T10:00:22-08:00 rating 3.7 out of 5

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