Archive for solar bears she was colored in review

Music Review: Solar Bears – She Was Colored In (2010)

Posted in 2010, Music, Review with tags on November 15, 2010 by liffeymusic

Irish electronica duo Solar Bears’ debut album, She Was Colored In is a genuine love letter to the masters of electronica that have come before it. Like many of its predecessors it is lush and icy, stressing a contrast between cold and warm, technology and nature. As far as it goes it can be considered a relative success. However, it falls short of being noteworthy when compared to its peers due to the fact that it is so admiring, but not necessarily fully understanding. Solar Bears are still in the learning process, mimicking the masters. That’s fine, and is to be expected, but as it stands now, their debut album doesn’t leave much of a mark.

She Was Colored In suffers from an overly sparse, sometimes jagged landscape, sounding like an awkward blend of Air, M83 and Black Moth Super Rainbow. I have no problem with minimal electronic music by any means, but Solar Bears fall short because they fail to make the genre their own. They lack both the confidence and the innovation that is essential in a genre where every note counts. With neither youthful daring or experienced proficiency driving their sound, the album washes over uneventfully. For those ready for yet another album full of sun-drenched synths and arpeggiating icicle melodies, it’s hard to imagine that Solar Bears won’t satisfy, but that’s only because they’re staying true to a well exercised formula.

I can’t say that Solar Bears make no effort to separate themselves. In a genre more likely to rely on dubstep, techno or glitch based beats, Solar Bears tend to flirt more with the rock side of things; they even feature occasionally distinctive lead guitar work. Thankfully, they typically don’t engage in the bombast of rock (with a few stagnant exceptions such as “Dolls”), choosing instead to respect the established restrained appeal of the vein of electronic music established by Aphex Twin and upheld today by modern electronic artists such as Pantha du Prince and Actress. The result is a respectable homage to the genre. This could be a negative or a positive depending on how you see things; if you’re happy to the tread the waters, then by all means give Solar Bears a try, but if you’d prefer to follow the current then there are certainly more impacting artists to invest in, in terms of both influence on the genre and the music itself.

I wanted to like this album a lot more than it paid off in the end. It sounds pleasant; too pleasant in fact, and all too familiar, causing it to feel worn out before you have had the chance to overplay it. The album unfortunately suffers from sounding like an inconsequential ripple on the far edge of a great splash. Solar Bears might have been able to stand next to the artists who caused he splash had they existed at the right time. I feel wrong saying that; after all, shouldn’t we judge the music alone for what it’s worth, regardless of the context of the times? Ideally yes, but Solar Bears sound too much like an afterthought, albeit a happy afterthought, to ignore the superiority and timeliness of their mentors.

Final Score: 66/100