Blue Hours

Bear's Den

Blue Hours

The title of the fourth album by UK folk-rock duo Bear’s Den may take its name from a Moroccan hotel that members Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones visited, but for vocalist and guitarist Davie, the meaning goes deeper than that. “The Blue Hours hotel has this really beautiful atrium but also a slightly sort of eerie element to it,” he tells Apple Music. “I thought it was a cool name for the headspace I was getting into at night when I was working on music.” Inspired, Davie came home and wrote the record’s title track, a pulsing, synth-driven anthem. A pathway for Blue Hours had emerged. “It felt like a mood that was exciting to us musically and lyrically,” he says. “It was like, ‘Let’s see what this weird mood means to us and go down this road.’” It has resulted in an album that pairs the duo’s intricate songwriting with a spacious sonic palette inspired by ’80s soft rock and Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is”—big pop songs that sound bombastic and minimalist at the same time. The musical uplifts are a perfect platform for Davie’s contemplative lyrics on mental health and being inside your own head. “I’ve always been drawn to writing songs when I don’t fully understand what’s going on in my own life or I’m finding things difficult,” he says. “But with this record, that side of it almost became the theme itself. It was a product of quite a lot of alone time and trying to make sense of things.” Davie takes us on a journey through Bear’s Den’s most fully formed record to date, track by track. “New Ways” “I’d bought a crappy piano for 150 quid or something, and I was writing a lot on that during the pandemic. I remember first playing it to Kev and his eyes just lighting up. I’m a massive Bruce Hornsby fan, so whenever I’m playing piano, I’m constantly trying to write something that feels a bit like ‘The Way It Is.’ He is a genius, and I think I was probably trying to learn one of his songs when I stumbled into the arrangement for ‘New Ways.’ Lyrically, this also felt like a bit of a mission statement for the album. It’s about finding new ways to get by and be all right and get through life without being able to be with your friends all the time and without being able to go out and do stuff.” “Blue Hours” “This was the first song Kev and I demoed together, and we were like, ‘We really want to call the album this.’ There was something about the mood of those two words. This song has been on such a journey. The first demo we did was absolutely bananas. My demo before that was just a piano, and then it became this huge thing, both of us throwing everything at it. And then Ian [Grimble], our producer, was really great at winding us in a little bit, helping give us a bit of direction with it.” “Frightened Whispers” “This is quite a bizarre song, really. I was struggling a lot with writing songs a while ago, and a friend of mine suggested that we both just write one song in a day and send it to each other. I wrote some electronic music and some lyrics and just fired it over, and it really broke me out of the writing funk I was in. I sent it to Kev, and he just had loads of guitar, bass, and drum ideas as well. It just flew and became this really important song to both of us.” “Gratitude” “I wrote this after I read a book called Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay, which was really transformative for me. He would look at the difficult moments of his life with gratitude, and I found it really powerful and empowering, and I carried that through the whole process of making the record or writing the songs. It was this idea that you’re writing about this stuff because it matters to you and because you care about the person that it’s about, and that clearly shows a lot of gratitude. You’re not just spiraling in a kind of self-pitying thing—you’re actually expressing quite a lot of love and good stuff by doing this.” “Shadows” “This is about the idea of being close to someone who’s really struggling with depression, and that’s something I can really relate to in my own life. There’s been multiple friends and relatives who’ve struggled with depression, and I think it’s a very difficult place to be when people you really care about are struggling. It’s a song that was showing solidarity and support and recognizing how difficult that stuff is. On a musical level, it’s probably the song I’m most proud of. I really love playing that piano part, and the way that the strings and the bass and drums interact was a really amazing collaborative effort.” “All That You Are” “I wrote this quite a long time ago. We just hadn’t figured the right album to do it on. I think something about the combination of Kev playing a Wurlitzer piano and me messing around on an electric guitar just felt really great. The bridge section felt like a real chance for strings to really do something special that we’ve never really done on an album before.” “Spiders” “I wrote this during the pandemic. I’d moved out of London, and, at the time, I was going, ‘Yeah, if I move, that’ll just solve all my problems, and everything will be much better.’ The song is about how, no matter what you're doing, if there’s stuff that’s haunting you or that you’re struggling with, it’ll find you. It was one of those songs where working on it, it felt like it was quite a downbeat song, but we really wanted in the studio to make sure the album felt celebratory.” “Selective Memories” “I became a dad during the pandemic, and so did Kev. This is about becoming a dad, but also my mother suffers from dementia, and so I was writing about building new memories with my daughter whilst at the same time losing memories with my mother. In that process, I think there were a lot of things that the people around her had to go through that were quite difficult, and she doesn’t really remember any of it. So, when a friend of mine asked, ‘How is she getting on?’ I made a joke out of it and was like, ‘I think her memory’s a bit selective.’ Then, it became this idea of, ‘I hope my daughter gets to meet the person that I knew.’ That was the sentiment behind the song.” “On Your Side” “This is inspired by two really great films, Paris, Texas and My Own Private Idaho. In My Own Private Idaho, River Phoenix’s character keeps waking up in the desert, as he’s a narcoleptic, and in Paris, Texas, it opens with a guy who’s stranded in the middle of the desert, trying to piece together his life from a difficult position. The pandemic was the first time in my life I felt a little bit like I’d just woken up in the middle of the desert, trying to work out who I was. I watched both of those movies quite close to each other, and I just started writing that song.” “All the Wrong Places” “This is a song about memory and how that works. You find memories of people in the strangest places. You might be watching a film and a memory of someone will come up. There’s something in that I found interesting and exciting, and it related to my own relationship with a few different people. Your subconscious remembers stuff that you’re not actively remembering because it matters to you. That felt like a powerful idea to me, and quite an intimate thing to say at the end of an album.”

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