A scout around facebook will reveal a large number of bands by the name of Hunting Bears but hopefully the orchestral folk of this Leeds based Hunting Bears will keep the name firmly associated with them. The term ‘orchestral’ is an unusual description for a sextet, one that is borne out by their unexpectedly large than life sound. Their latest EP Brother Sister is my first listen and I’m hooked from the opening Julia on which the band’s vocal harmonies really shine, hinting at the fragility and inner warmth of the songs subject.
There is a fine balance throughout this EP from the vocals to the compositions. Despite the presence of electric guitar and percussion these are tempered by Celtic harp, violin and bowed double bass, no one is fighting for the limelight. This attention to detail dovetails into their songs which are not short of unexpected such as the displaced Boardwalks of the Zhan Qiao, a tale set in Qingdao, Eastern China where an 18 year old returns to their homeland.
They’ve mastered the ability to build tension and release and hang slightly shy of the melancholic but are masters of sorrowful tales nonetheless. Two of the more sorrowful songs are left to the second half with Her Velvet Dress, a heart-breaking tale of a love lost to another filled with haunting memories that flood the senses in grief and the final pounding beat of Primrose Hill which is shot through the middle with a silken thread of angst.
“At our house some years ago, Our mother is crying, Our father broke her heart, And he broke ours too (burdens how we love),”
In the space of four tracks Hunting Bears unleash a powerhouse of emotions which soar on the breeze of their intuitive musical interpretations. They balance finesse and power perfectly, one to keep an ear out for.
Fans of Bon Iver, The Tallest Man on Earth and The Staves will love this.
From Three Years Ago via The Blind Club: