Your Pet is Dead

Eatenbybears leave their math-rock days behind them in favour of an indie aesthetic, but does their new sound add up?

When they first burst onto the scene a number of years ago, Belfast-based four-piece Eatenbybears had critics frothing at the mouth, stumbling over each other to fling new superlatives at them (myself included).

But as time has progressed, so too have the eatenbybears, who seem to have moved away from the atmospheric blend of math-rock/post-rock and atmospherics that made their name toward something entirely different, shedding almost all of the sound they had initially crafted in the process.

This is both a positive and negative thing on new single, 'Your Pet is Dead'. Whilst certain critics may bemoan the lack of edge as evident on ‘Vanderhoof’ – the stand out track on their 2011 album Teeth – Eatenbybears have, nevertheless, revealed themselves as restless musical explorers. There seems to be a keen musical intelligence to everything they do.

‘Your Pet is Dead’ finds the band building on the tropical pop vibes of previous single ‘Simple as Hell’, which was an encouraging yet ultimately unsatisfying attempt to take the now slightly dated sound of Vampire Weekend into fresh and uncharted waters.

Maintaining the sunny disposition of the previous single, ‘Your Pet is Dead’ goes through a series of abrupt shifts and changes of tone, always keeping the listener on their toes. Eatenbybears are unafraid to confound.

By the end of the song, the Eatenbybears' sound has coalesced into something much darker than it used to be. Ominous guitar and synth sounds build to a suitably epic climax, indicating that eatenbybears might just have re-captured the spark that garnered them so much attention in the first place.

If a stumbling block is to be found, it lies tightly coiled at the heart of the band’s DNA. As an ostensibly ‘pop’ band, Eatenbybears are cut from the same cloth as Talking Heads – or, more obscurely perhaps, The Dismemberment Plan, easily one of the most overlooked bands of the last 20 years. They produce a kind of ‘pop’ that rarely translates as ‘popular’.

The melodies are too schizophrenic, the lyrics too esoteric, the delivery too detached. And while Vampire Weekend managed to make literate, self-referential indie pop a legitimate commercial prospect, it’s difficult to see eatenbybears managing the same feat.

However, for anyone with an interest in lyrical indie guitar music, you could do far worse than have a listen to this single. 'Your Pet is Dead' is available now as a free download from the eatenbybears Band Camp page.