The Bear Hunt: To Be Honest

- The ‘90s have been creeping back for a while now. Unashamedly loud and distorted guitar sounds pumped out by dudes wearing flannel shirts and long shorts. Violent Soho might be all that most fist-pumping, beer swilling punters need to get them through those angsty years of their early twenties. Still, it seems like something’s missing, maybe. Where are the bands that recall the loud and defiantly female sounds of the era? Where are the L7s, Bikini Kills or Babes In Toyland? They had plenty of Australian counterparts, too: NitocrisBlitz Babies and of course Magic Dirt. Can today’s generation of riot grrrlz match them pound for pound? Waax might be cutting a rocking streak to the top and The Grates might be getting in touch with their grungier side but, man, I want something more, something heavier.

I wasn’t sure I was looking for it from The Bear Hunt. On their last single, Ready Or Not, the sweetly chiming lead melody and the bittersweet love story delivered with hard-living huskiness by the band’s very deeply voiced frontwoman, Bec, it all put me in mind of one of those infectious fuzz-pop ditties Bob Mould is so good at knocking out. Bec’s voice is really something else, a deep, scratched but booming contralto and it only gets louder and more fearsome, along with the rest of the band, across their debut full-length, To Be Honest. The heaviness unfolds, unforgivingly, as The Bear Hunt lay down a thunderhead of guitar sound.

The band have a clearly stoner influence, chugging out 90bpm riffs played off against big, bluesy lead sounds. It’s not so stoner that it sounds like Kyuss or Tumbleweed, it’s a lot angrier than that for starters, Bec is pretty pissed about stuff and that comes across, just like it did in the post-’80’s disillusionment of grunge.

What was grunge anyway, but a bunch of disparate ‘70’s guitar sounds that got slapped with a marketing label that barely fitted any of them? Still if you tried to look for the line that went through the middle of all those grunge sounds and the grunge ethos, then The Bear Hunt may well be right on it. Loud, slow, fuzzy, sweet, angry, this is exactly what I wanted to hear. It might not be the ‘90s anymore, but I’m guessing that for a whole bunch of other people, The Bear Hunt will fit the bill too.

- Chris Cobcroft.

Album Details

Album Title: To Be Honest
Artist: The Bear Hunt
Record Label: (Indie)