Album Review: Bearcraft – ‘Fabrefactions’.

There’s a surprising soft elegance to Bearcraft’s new album, a range of sounds unexpected from singles released that mixed coldwave with dark electronica. The stripped St Vincent disco of July’s Outside In The Morning Snow’ brought a warm natural glow to its synthplay. Before that, in ‘Slumber’, we heard minimalist drones with industrial scrapes against free-moving smooth and slow vocals. Both these tracks gently haunted and waned, both tracks moved with a mournful nostalgia. And while this quality runs throughout ‘Fabrefactions’, we’re exposed to a breadth of new textures.

‘Of Course You Did’ is a glistening sad-pop song. Its straight retro beat pushes synth pads and bass modulations against key runs and ‘Black Cherry’ grit. By the end we play out to some 808 samples that I’m wishing made their entrance sooner. ‘There’s A Ghost In My Heart’ gives a more concise blast of that retro-kissed indie electro. Add to these ‘Honey’, the most playful of all, and these songs are primed the airwaves. They’re intelligent slick bedroom pop.

Elsewhere there’s leanings towards 80s film soundtracks. The John Carpenter intro of ‘Folk Devil And The Moral Panics’ runs detuned and pulsing and menacing. ‘Where The Sun Sets’ plays again with suspense, but here spaces are fleshed out with cold clicks and harmonies that breed a dystopian chill. While this focus on winter-fuelled cold atmospherics shows off Bearcraft’s range of aesthetics, it’s not quite as distinctive as it might need to be to produce something wholly engulfing. But’s not to say it’s not wanted.

But the biggest departure of all? That comes from the oddly acoustic folktronica that weaves through the track ‘Coming In’. It’s a lurch to the left in the album’s first half that nothing else points towards or touches. With a goth melancholia that’s borders romantic, we might applaud the change and the band’s wealth of sounds just as much as question it’s inclusion. Where everything else on show in Fabrefactions is carefully produced and positioned, this rougher, more fluid, less self-refined song either adds or distracts from its highlights.

The charm of this release is its intrigue. Its sorrow-pop hooks you when it runs at its strongest, elsewhere there’s a keen sense of play. Fabrefactions is out now to stream and download, catch its newest two singles below.