Agape is a theme of spiritual, Christian love explored by London-based trio Andrew Davie, Kevin Jones and Joey Haynes on their second EP released by Communion Records. Being inextricably linked with Ben Lovett it is unsurprising that Bear’s Den’s sound has a touch of Mumford about it, though that can be said of innumerable bands these days. Bear’s Den are distinguishable by Andrew Davie’s delicate and emotional vocal and their thrumming base drum.
I saw the band last year supporting a rather grumpy Matt Corby at Electric circus in Edinburgh and I must say they were a true joy to see live. They played tracks from their first, eponymous EP, and what really struck me was the DYI ethos of it all. They told of how they recorded their first EP in a tumbledown farmhouse in Wales, and how they hand printed each CD sleeve using a potato stamp of a Bear’s paw. Obviously, I rushed to buy myself one of these handmade gems.
Having seen them live, and having enjoyed their first EP I was waiting in anticipation of their next offering. What they have produced is a beautifully crafted record, full of reflection and devotion. The title track is on the brink of being a breakup song, as Davie sings in the emotional chorus “I’m so scared of loosing you and I don’t know what I can do about it.” The song avoids being melancholy through the cheery banjo, which plays through out and the pulsing base drum that builds to an almost hopeful climax, which reflects the Christian love explored in the lyrics. It is not just a love song, nor a breakup song, rather it is about a love that runs deeper.
The second track ‘Isaac’ is more gentle, Davie almost speaks the opening lines. Here, the lyrics explore familial love: “I’m going to give all my love to you.” The music is truly lovely, lilting banjo reflecting the tender love expressed in the Chorus. The pulsing base drum returns in ‘Mother’, a track which has some of the weightiness of Laura Marling’s second album, with equally heavy lyrics. Despite its more gentle intro, the subject matter of ‘When you Break’ is equally heavy: “Spoilt selfish little child went out to play out in the wild”. The final track is really lovely, the chorus building with a gentle plead: “please be careful with your love”. This song feels very familiar, this may be because these lyrics have been sung a thousand times before.
The EP presents an exploration of different kinds of love and loss, and in particular, the tensions between familial and romantic love, themes that have been sung about forever, and will continue to be explored as long as we are capable of human emotion. Bear’s Den have created a very promising EP, with interesting and relatable lyrics, accompanied by exciting and emotive instrumentation. To experience their music at its full force though, I would greatly recommend seeing them live. I particularly look forward to hearing what they come up with for their first full length album.
Words: Amelia Steele