What Is Home, the debut album from Glasgow collective Brownbear (braunbear) might be arriving a little later than originally anticipated, but this easy-going, disarming collection of songs, much like charismatic frontman and leader Matt Hickman is well worthy of your time and energy – not that it’ll feel like you are expending energy here.
There is an effortless charm to this record that makes it an absolute pleasure to listen to. Lyrics that tell a story, underpinned by an acoustic guitar and smooth lead electric, all bound together by Hickman’s affecting vocal style, What Is Home ought to elevate Brownbear to a higher level.
There is a familiarity to these song, partly down to singles ‘Olive Tree’ and ‘Wandering Eyes’ being part of their set for a couple of years but largely because there are universal subjects threaded through the album. Opening track (and most recent single) ‘Covers’ is a tale of love and betrayal which embodies all that is best of the record; bitterness and heartbreak entwined with jangly guitar and a catchy chorus, happy melancholy.
The self-deprecating tone reappears in ‘Wandering Eyes’ and again on ‘The Wrong Team’. Don’t fear there is only one-dimension however, ‘Truth Without Consequence’ is as uplifting and free-spirited as the sadness of loss in ‘Olive Tree’ is masked by warm harmonies and guitar. The guitars become a little fuzzier and the tempo changes on ‘Stop The World’ and ‘Living Memories’ with its crescendo drums and yet more affecting vocals turning it into a song of real beauty.
What Is Home is a joy to listen to, capped off by a subtle, dreamy title track that closes the album off in almost hushed tones.
This is yet another example that Scottish music continues to flourish. Brownbear are driven, confident, and ready to be heard and as a result have produced an album that deserves real acclaim. The confidence shines through and this is an LP that will have you dancing and singing, and before long, What Is Home won’t just sound familiar, it’ll be one of those albums you turn to again and again.
What Is Home is released today also and can be ordered here. The band also play their album launch show tonight (Friday, 20th April) at Stereo, Glasgow before embarking on a brief tour of Scotland, ending in Edinburgh at Sneaky Pete’s on the 13th of May.