Saturday, 30 May 2009

Review: Sam Isaac - Bears

I wrote a few words about this album a month or so ago, but I feel like it's worth highlighting again just how amazing "Bears" is.

For the uninitiated, Sam Isaac is a singer-songwriter from Malvern, and writes big buzzy pop songs that manage to be triumphant and uplifting without ever breaching the line of "tweeness", and as summer approaches, his debut album "Bears" might just be the album to have on in the sunshine.

The opening track on the album, "Bears", is a perfect starter, starting little, with acoustic guitar and a little delay-laden synth line, it soon grows to a huge crashing anthem, complete with group vocals, massive guitars and drums, and lyrics that just manage to place you into an entirely earnest storyline. The first half of the album is full of these little anthems, featuring past singles "Sticker Star and Tape", "Fire, Fire", and the song that gained him a tonne of mainstream attention, "Sideways", and all of them sound absolutely huge compared to their previously recorded counterparts. Lead single "Come Back Home Tonight" is also a beautifully triumphant song, with it's chorus bound to stay in your heart for days.

Side 2 of the album (sure its a CD, but a guy can dream) kicks off with the ebbing flow of "Berlin", which grows and grows and grows into a wonderful refrain of "I'll see you in Berlin", highlighted with an uplifting trumpet line. This is followed by possibly the standout track on the CD, "I Traded My Friends For You", which is a brilliant little story of new love, and Sam amazingly manages to keep it from sounding trite. One thing worth pointing out is that everything on this record is there for a reason, and this song basically showcases that, with little occasional piano lines, and group vocal "ahh's", and perfectly understated drums, that all add to the song. Really, REALLY, good stuff.

The album comes to a close with "What Good Did That Do?", a heartfelt song full of romantic strings and acoustic guitar, and big closer "Apple Tree", with it's intricate piano melody holding the whole song together, and everything reaching a huge finale.

It really is worth highlighting just how Sam manages to write a whole album of uplifting pop songs, yet manages to avoid the whole thing becoming too much. "Bears" manages to follow the rules, yet not sound cliché'd, and the underlying romanticism behind all the songs just makes it a rewarding listen everytime. Definitely an album you should listen to.

Bears is released 22/06/09