London Toynbee Arts Centre, 22/2/02
published: 23 /
Norwich's Bearsuit are "musically unprincipled and inadvertently messy", but new writer Gary Wollen finds a recent London show to be "gorgeous, sublime and damn fine !"
SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!! Quite frankly I hadn't heard of the three bands on the bill tonight, but was intrigued enough to put that right. On sauntering into the Arts Café I was greeted witha sound so gloriously life affirming, musically unprincipled and inadvertently messy that it somehow manifested itself into something greater than its parts. I didn't find out until afterwards, still blowing my cheeks in awe that that was a gig by a band from Norwich called Bearsuit. Now come on ! Norwich ??? Delia Smith, Sale of the Century , Justin Fashanu !!! Right, now that the stereotypical clichés are out of the way, we can get down to the nitty gritty. Bearsuit are gorgeous, sublime and damn fine! There you go, that's my review. Says it all, doesn't it ?
You want more?.OK, they sound like the kind of sonic outburst that a gang of, rapscallions and urchins would concoct after breaking into the school music room and experimenting on every instrument there. The sound is raw and vaguely untutored, the dirty guitar sound and train like drumming give a perfect back drop for trumpets, flutes, keyboards and a light sprinkling of accordion to add a depth and breadth of sound that give dimension to the songs' hidden strengths. The tunes themselves bob and weave often taking, without warning, quite unusual and always utterly pleasing diversions into what seems unknown yet vaguely familiar ground.
I could hear The Fall, Belle and Sebastian, The Pastels, even The Buzzcocks and The BMX Bandits at various points during the set. Bearsuit's great strength, however, is that these may be blatant reference points or could quite possibly be hopelessly wide of the mark and I may have been dreaming. Another of their endearing charms is that you are never quite sure whether each song will make it to the end being incredibly fragile (but not pappy) and majestically robust simultaneously. And the irony of this is that you actually never want their songs to end anyway.
Iain's Ross's lead vocals sound like the best parts of Pete Shelley and Mark E Smith and magically conjure together teenage angst, and sincere naivety and knowing in equal amounts. Lisa Horton meanwhile sings her vocals with a beautiful purity, whilst at the same time almost bursting with excitement at the seams. The effect of all this is a set that seems to have fallen together,. The brilliance of it all is it seems random and fortuitously accidental , and that in itself makes this something that major record companies wouldn't touch with the proverbial bargepole but paradoxically should.
I'm off to order all their records from the PennyBlack catalogue right now. I'll race you there!