(Photo Credit - Nathan Bajar)
Advance Review Long Beard - Means to Me - September 13, 2019
Long Beard's (Leslie Bear's project) new album Means to Me is full of dreamlike guitar, soft ethereal vocals, and a tinge of bedroom pop to it. The album never overplays it's hand and delivers its lyrics and melodies meticulously, rather than like a punch to the guy.
Means to Me kicks off the the incredibly emotional track "Countless". It's all about the notion of what home is. Where do we draw those boundaries? Is it fluid? How do we know? In particular there is a lyric in the song that absolutely stuck me through the heart, when Bear softly sang: "driving down through our state lines while you dream, I'm thinking of a name to go by". What a way to kick off an album!
"Getting By" the second track on the album features a more alt/indie style melody to it, though Bear's vocals are in softer tones. The song seems to be about a narrator that is in a strained relationship. It explores perception of faults in a partner and how others may not see them. Also it explores insecurities within one's self.
"Sweetheart" is more upbeat with prominent guitar and bass work. Lyrically the song seems to be dealing with the dissolution of a relationship and the aftermath. It contains a lot of great gems of lines throughout such as: "told you, about my first kiss / in the rain out of CVS / since then I've found / what I'm worth to myself". There's something hauntingly beautiful about that line.
Another song that stuck out was "In the Morning". Though it's a short track, it's so heartfelt. Lyrically, it's heartbreaking. Musically, its emotive as well. It's a track that definitely moves you when you listen. Again gripping with issues of interpersonal relationships and loss, Bear is a master lyricist. Finally, you should check out "The Last", the music is great and there's a fantastic guitar solo that I was absolutely digging.
Overall, the album is a solid collection of bedroom pop tracks that deliver emotion in spades. If you're looking for a comp before you dive in, Japanese Breakfast is a decent one. This is interesting because Means to Me was co-produced by Japanese Breakfast's Craig Hendrix. It's not a perfect comp, but an interesting one nonetheless. That said, I love this album it's genuine, heartfelt, the lyrics are downright dynamite, and the melodies are well structured and placed. The album overall deals with themes of home and loss throughout. This is an early contender for Album of the Month for September.
Songs I'd Recommend Immediately - "Countless", "Getting By", "Sweetheart", "In the Morning", "Means to Me", "Monarch", and "The Last"
Rating - 4.5/5