After the neo-folk brilliance of debutMoonfire, followed by the steady, ’70s-rock-fleckedHarlequin Dream, Boy & Bear feel and sound like a band infinitely comfortable in their position.

They’ve been gradually stretching and flexing, but never attempting anything that would seriously rock the boat they’ve built.

Like any of their releases, Limit Of Love lends itself to being examined over a few listens. They’ve wandered further down the Harlequin Dream road of ’70s rock, although this time there are big flourishes of alt-country, like the tangy curls of pedal steel on ‘Breakdown Slow’. Recorded live to tape, with barely any overdubbing or editing, the tracks are pervaded by a certain looseness, whether it’s within the chugging rhythms of single ‘Walk The Wire’, the lazy warmth of ‘Where’d You Go’, or the locked-down rollicking of ‘Hollow Ground’.

Dave Hosking’s vocals are still the most impressive instrument, whether caked in cold reverb (‘Showdown’), or crackling on the closer, ‘Fox Hole’. As a lyricist he’s as self-critical as ever, calling himself a liar, before breaking open and admitting: “I’m not sure of anything anymore”.

It doesn’t break new ground, but Limit Of Love is a worthy addition to the Boy & Bear catalogue.

Boy & Bear’sLimit Of Loveis available through Island/Universal.

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