Tucked away in an oft-forgotten corner of the middle of the country, Ohio has been the home of quite a few quality bands, including big names like Twenty One Pilots and Walk the Moon. As the Ohio independent music scene quickly rises to national prominence, one band in particular has been working immensely hard to make a place for themselves. Spirit of the Bear, in a follow up of 2016’s Remains, is easily closing 2017 out on a high note, with their sophomore effort Fade Into Blue. A thorough album, the 10-track epic features something for fans of almost every genre and style, showing a cutting-edge versatility and unique sound that can quickly bring Spirit of the Bear to the forefront of the public eye.
The album’s first title, “Dying/Lying,” could fit in easily among underground mainstays such as LA-based Finish Ticket or Night Riots. The cool vocals croon a brooding story, one that flows easily over rough-cut guitar riffs. The beat can be felt at the core of the song, which one can imagine could translate beautifully into a live set. The frayed-edge rock vibe starkly sits along a spectrum, the other end of which is marked by album highlight “Folded.” In this piece, Spirit of the Bear show off their ability to make a shiny, rounded song; their production chops are on full display, as vocal distortions and icy synth make their place within the album. The roughly four-and-a-half-minute-long track is a win for music lovers everywhere, and is enough to move listeners to tears without having to say much of anything at all. If you listen to just one song off of Fade Into Blue, let it be this one.
Other gems embedded within the album include “Lacuna,” a montage-worthy piece that rises and falls with grace; “Run My Mouth,” which has immense potential among fans of groovy synth-rock a la Hippo Campus; and “White Flag,” an anthem for the aching that swells into a cathartic release worthy of any rooftop yell session.
But for all of these beautifully written, well-produced bursts of music euphoria, there’s one song that resonates the strongest. Closing track “Life Like Paper” very much brings the album back down to reality, giving Fade Into Blue an eminent humanity and vulnerability. The brutal honesty contained within the lyrics proclaiming that “we’re still alive” is introspective. It’s reflective, but above all, it’s vulnerable. As has been seen time after time, it’s a band’s ability to be emotionally raw within their music that can make or break an album. Though the album is stellar on its own, it’s “Life Like Paper” that is the icing on the cake- it’s the bittersweet end of an era and the conclusion to a complicated, lifelong story. In its totality, Fade Into Blue is a triumph for music, and highlights the overwhelmingly bright future for Spirit of the Bear.
By: Molly McCaul