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Album Review

For 2000's My War, the Bear Quartet drop the quasi-symphonic textures of their last few albums in favor of a less "pretty" but ultimately more intriguing sound. The eight-minute opener, "What I Hate," starts with a sparse, Kraftwerk-like arrangement of minimal keyboards and tapping electronic drums under a heavily processed lead vocal before erupting into an incredibly harsh barrage of high-register bleeping and droning noises that steamroller over the rest of the song and continue unabated for close to five minutes. It's actually by far the coolest song on the entire album, as the other nine songs don't go quite as far into the experimental zone. Acoustic guitars predominate, with feedback and subtle electronic accents coloring the uniformly slowly expanding, meandering songs. The sound suggests that this is a dark, melancholy album, but there's actually a fair amount of humor to be found on tracks like "Everybody Gets to Play," a heartfelt and earnest tribute to the joys of pick-up basketball games, and the wry "I Had a Job." The lovely "Helpless" is another highlight, one of the prettiest ballads of the Bear Quartet's career. Eight albums into their career, the Bear Quartet is unafraid to change their sound, and My War is one of their stronger albums.


Formed: 1989 in Luleå, Sweden

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

With an innovative style of clear, sophisticated pop that originated in the small tundra town of Lulea, Sweden, The Bear Quartet's original line up of Matti Alkberg (guitar and vocals), Jari Haapalainen (guitar), Peter Nuottaniemi (bass), Johan Forsling (guitar) and Magnus Olsson (drums) officially began in 1989. But it wasn't 1992 until when label recognition took place with Stockholm's A West Side Fabrication upon the release of The Bear Quartet's first album Penny Century. Since then, the band...
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My War, The Bear Quartet
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