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album review: harlequin dreams, boy and bear

boy and bear

Two years after their phenomenally successful debut, Moonfire, Boy and Bear return with Harlequin Dreams. Anyone who wondered whether the Sydney indie-folk outfit would succumb to the dreaded second album syndrome will be satisfied within the opening bars, announcing that the lads’ entrance to the scene was no fluke.

The catchy opening track and first single Southern Sun, will please already-established fans and earn them even more. Lead vocalist and songwriter Dave Hosking explains in the chorus that “I got the burning fire in there, in my soul”, and listeners are left in no doubt about this passion as the album progresses.

Hosking has articulated in interviews that he believes that ‘good art is personal’ and this feeling resonates through the lyrics in a much less ambiguous way than in their debut. Next single Three Headed Woman details a difficult relationship: “Cause the love that keeps me sane/ Is killing me all the same.”

Indeed, much of the opening half of the album is intimate, honest and lushly complemented by Hosking’s vocals and intertwining guitars, keys and even a surprise saxophone solo. End of the Line provides a break with a decidedly more upbeat number, with elements of country beats that wouldn’t be out of place in Tamworth.

The last tracks solidify their reputation for being Australia’s answer to Mumford and Sons, perfectly balancing brooding lyrics with swelling choruses. Boy and Bear won over so many with their relentless touring – including getting right back on the horse after winning five ARIA awards. After dazzling crowds at Splendour last month, the rest of us can experience these superb songs live when they tour nationally in October and November.

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