Housing a rotating cast of musicians, Matthew Tybor‘s The Bunny The Bear has been blurring the lines between genres for over a decade. Returning with another vocalist, ‘Afterglow’ sees the duo move further into pop soundscapes with an emphasis on Jake Reeves‘ cleans.
Trance synths, EDM inspired beats and shouted raps usher in ‘Futures’ before unfurling a smooth and hook laden chorus. Glitched, shapeshifting and memorable, The Bunny The Bear open up album number eight in typically experimental fashion. Leaning more towards a compressed pop sound, ‘Tell The Truth’ embraces sleek production and subtle distortion whilst retaining the oddball tendencies that have been associated with the band over the years.
With Reeves helping to inject a smooth and commercial sound to the frantic performance of Tybor, somehow ‘Tell The Truth’ manages to find a place in both pop and prog rock. A testament to how far The Bunny The Bear have come, ‘Afterglow’ continues to deliver left turns yet doesn’t lose the raw energy of previous releases.
As the album hits its midpoint, the dark balladry of ‘Burn’ not only displays vulnerability and the range of Reeves, but also serves as a highlight. A turning point for the record, ‘Burn’ delivers a ballad in the eclectic style of The Bunny The Bear successfully. Whilst the record does include the entirety of 2018’s ‘You Have To Die A Few Times’ EP in its track list, the shift between styles works well for the duo.
This is shown on the skittish ‘Visions’. Boasting storming choruses, diving synth lines, the track combines the smooth cleans of Reeves and furious growls of Tybor with impressive results. Moving between trance, experimental rock, industrial, and holding a crowd pleasing hook, it gives a glimpses of where The Bunny The Bear could still venture later down the line.
Closing with the melodic and sparse ‘All I Know’, ‘Afterglow’ concludes on a more restrained note than expected. Showing that less is more, the track serves as yet again a highlight on a record that comes close to pulling off the transition that The Bunny The Bear are clamouring for.
A strong record that is bold in its decisions, ‘Afterglow’ has a few standout moments, but ultimately it doesn’t quite reach the level of its contemporaries.