Bear Hands

You'll Pay For This

If this writer had a band, he would be hating the hell out of Bear Hands. Three albums in, the Brooklyn, New York, cabal show absolutely no indication of creative stasis or aspirations to become barnacles on the hull of some dull-assed trend. Theoretically, You’ll Pay For This isn’t a complete departure from 2014’s Distraction because unlike most bands, Bear Hands don’t have a comfort zone. If you wanted to inflict psychic pain on these dudes, lock them in a studio and tell them they have to make the same record twice.

This time out, everybody is an MVP. Frontman Dylan Rau is one of the best vocalists of his generation. Period. Rau conveys breathy tenderness (“The Shallows”), withering sarcasm (“good with people/you’re good with cops” from “Boss”) terminal ennui and introspective neurosis (“2AM”) so effectively, you’d think he was clinically schizophrenic. The rhythm section of bassist Val Loper and drummer TJ Orscher know how to use space (“Like Me Like That”) and when to power up. Guitarist/co-producer Ted Feldman stretches out further than on previous records, mining fervent pop sensibilities and rock riffs that simply molt facial hair. But he also actively shares the space with synthesizers and electric pianos (“Too Young”) to conjure a ’70s rock revival that’s more irresistible than ironic. It all comes together (especially on brisk numbers as the era-colliding “Marathon Man” and “Chin Ups”) for a record so perfect, lesser bands should just break the hell up already and practice their syrup-pumping skills for future employment.

Too creative to be dismissed as millennial slackers and too genuine to be unfairly lumped in with too-clever-by-half hippies matriculating at posh colleges, Bear Hands continue to move forward in all directions. Look, one of these days, you’re going to be on a plane (jet, spiritual) high above Earth, or maybe in an apartment looking through rain-blurred windows at the late-night, neon-lit activity below while your lover is sleeping. And you’re going to need a soundtrack. People, you really should pay for this.