Variety is the spice of life unless you are talking about albums. Too much variety on an album is considered inconsistent while too little is consider “one note.” On Bear Hands‘ debut LP, Burning Bush Supper Club was a surprisingly consistent effort that painted the band as Brooklyn’s own mixture of Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club. Four years later, the band attempts to redefine their sound on their sophomore album, Distraction.
Anytime a band is redefining their sound, it is scary for fans but for Bear Hands’ fans it has to be panic attack-inducing. The band already had their share of quirk with various incarnations of vocals: some child-like and falsetto, some distorted with an odd accent, some super-reverbed and trippy. These little quirks become much bigger on Distraction. The album starts with “Moment of Silence,” a pretty track that starts off with the pathos of the Chariots of Fire theme song before breaking into some a little more Animal Collective. As an opening track, it makes the album feel more mature and more focused. Unfortunately those feelings are only momentary as the follow up track–which is also the album’s lead single–“Giants” completely destroys it. The track sounds like if Sum 41 jammed with MGMT in some whack rap/rock collaboration. “Giants” includes lines like “never been to jail because I never get caught” and a reference to ODB. To say the song is cringe-worthy would be an understatement.
Although nothing on Distractions is quite as offputting as “Giants,” it still does not run smoothly. “Vile Iowa” is a lush soundscape that seems incredibly out of place especially since it is followed by 90s pop/rock fodder “Bad Friend.” “Bad Friend” is one of the catchier songs on the album but surround by a better catalogue of tracks, it would be forgettable.
Im the end, Distractions is just that. It seems to be a collection of eleven songs that have little to nothing to do with one another. It would be believable that some of these songs were composed and recorded by completely different bands. While some songs show promise or at least pop sensibility, Distractions falls into that dreaded category of inconsistent.