Five years after the breakthrough of their debut album We Came Here to Die, the Arkansas music collective Bear Colony return with their new full-length Soft Eyes, due out November 13th on Esperanza Plantation Records. Upon first listen, it is apparent that the thirteen tracks comprising this sophomore effort bear little resemblance to Bear Colony’s debut. Ditching the acoustic underpinnings and nimble electronic beats that defined WCHTD, Soft Eyes finds the group newly invigorated, and showcases a broader range of song craft with denser orchestration and melodic sensibility.
Bear Colony began work on what would become their sophomore album in late 2009. After witnessing his mother’s health deteriorate following a lung collapse earlier in the year, Bear Colony founder and vocalist Vincent Griffin once again channeled his emotional world into songs and soundscapes, beginning a new phase of creativity that he would bring to the band for their collective treatment.
Bear Colony recorded initial tracks at Blackwatch Studios in Norman, Oklahoma in early 2010, with later sessions taking place at Insomniac Studios in nearby Fayetteville, Arkansas throughout 2010 and early 2011. These recordings successfully capture the live sound and energy of the band, as most tracking was done live in the studio as opposed to the patchwork manner by which their debut was composed.
Following the mixing and mastering phase of the album, Griffin’s mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in the spring of 2012, and she recently passed away this September. Soft Eyes is dedicated to her memory, as Griffin readily admits that the majority of the album was composed with her as inspiration. Don’t discount Soft Eyes as a downer though. One listen to tracks like “Flask Retort” and “We Don’t Know Harm I” reveals that this album is a celebration of life and the wonderful journey we get to share with the people we love.