Last Gang Records
Bear Mountain’s XO is an album that can’t help but put you in a good mood; the latest release from the Vancouver band holds on to an overt cheerfulness in its instrumentals, with synths that float around warm melodies and mobilizing percussion. The vocal melodies themselves retain this same energy, whether expressed by sampled shouts and cheers or the voice of Ian Bevis, who also produced the album. But Bevis’s lyrics counter the instrumentals’ steady happiness with lines that convey growing emotional distance, and are delivered with a vibrato that seems to shake his breath from the end of notes. While the vocal style in XO is distinct, traces of other artists can be heard in the production. Bevis has a knack for constructing just enough layers of percussion to generate a groove that doesn’t become bogged down, much like Caribou’s Daniel Snaith, though Bear Mountain is the more club-friendly of the two. Funky influences of French DJ’s can be found in bits and pieces throughout the album, and tracks like “Faded” and “Swim” can get you dancing just as well as anything on Random Access Memories.