There is no doubt that Harlequin Dream will swagger its way onto your sweet side, if it hasn’t done so already.

After setting Australia on fire with what became a five-time ARIA Award-winning debut, Boy & Bear have finally unleashed their hotly anticipated follow-up, Harlequin Dream. Already sitting pretty atop the ARIA albums chart, this accomplished sophomore showcases a confident Dave Hosking, comfortable in his little indie-folk corner of the world.

Without pushing too far outside their realm, the Sydney five-piece has stripped down sonically and focused more on tangling sweet melodies with a distinct commercial sensibility. At the forefront, Hosking’s vocals have a subtle echo that rings through each verse, a distinct sound that forever etches Boy & Bear into the mind. Perfect for those softly spring-flavoured days that are starting to emerge.

Album opener ‘Southern Sun’ was also the first taste of Harlequin Dream on radio, and a firm favourite it was/is. Its summery, feel-good charm digs deep at the listener and is impossible not to sing along to. Other favourites are ‘Three Headed Woman’ and ‘Harlequin Dream’, the latter fading out to a rather sensual saxophone solo.

The most attractive part of this album is its easiness. Quite simply, the pop-tainted indie folk sensibilities are just too easy to ingest and the gently layered production makes it all look much easier than it probably is. It must be all that ARIA talent in the studio (Wayne Connolly produced) and the definite influence of Seattle’s Phil Ek, who counts Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes among his mixing credits.

4/5 stars


Harlequin Dream is out now through Island Records.

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