The Lion The Bear The Fox - We'd Be Good Men
Released September 28, 2013
By Charlie Dims
After listening to The Lion The Bear The Fox's newest release We'd Be Good Men, perhaps the most shocking thing is not what this band has done, but what they haven't. Getting a taste of the music, there seems to be something very unifying about the three voices (Christopher Arruda - the Lion, Cory Woodward - the Bear, and Ryan McMhon - the Fox), something refined. It seems too obvious that this is a band that has slaved away for years, working long hours in the basement as the three perfected their sound and vocal coordination. But the truth is, as amazing as it seems, this is the band's first release. No, not their first release on a major label or their first LP after doing years of smaller, less-noticed EPs. This is their first release, period. In fact, this isn't even an album, but an EP composed of seven songs. The length hardly matters, however, because as short as it might be, these seven songs are full of brilliance.
It was perhaps a bold move for the three artists, who were originally solo artists, to come together in May of 2012 and form one band. Bands, after all, are messy. Being a solo artist, at least from this perspective, is relatively easy because the only person you have to respond to is yourself. With a band you not only have to think about the music that you hear in your hear, but also about the music that the other band members hear, as well as any differences in style or lyrical content. The Lion The Bear The Fox has managed to not only rise to these challenges, but to also take advantage of their various styles to morph a unique sound. Mumford and Sons might be the closest mainstream comparison, but The Lion The Bear The Fox brings more blues and soul to their folk-rock sound. Think Tom Waits with a clearer voice and background vocalists that bring just as much intensity as the lead.
Besides intensity, the EP shows that they are more than a one-note band. The first song Freedom puts the EP on the right start, with a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitar riffs and a steady drum beat. The chorus, with words "Freedom lives around the corner from me" feels believable given the talent of these musicians. We'd Be Good Men slows down the EP, but doesn't lack in emotional honesty. Go You Own Way brings in a much more intimate, more stripped down performance. Several times throughout, the vocals become so quiet that there's almost a feeling of guilt, as if you're listening to someone's private, although very polished, bedroom performance. With Room 32 we're back to the energetic sound that kicked off We'd Be Good Men. Stop the World adds just a touch of cutesy pop while lamenting the troubles of the world. Yet, for all of the negativity, the song avoids clichéd mourning in favor of progression and getting to a place where "I can be myself."
There are many things to mourn in the world, but The Lion The Bear The Fox isn't one of them. If We'd Be Good Men is a taste of what's to come, we can't wait for the next release.