Released: 10th November 2023
Where Bear’s Den ‘First Loves’ EP, released in June, was a longing for the heady days of young romance, the sequel ‘White Magnolias’ is an embittered look back at where it all went wrong.
The doe-eyed characters that the duo inhabit in ‘First Loves’ contrast greatly with the cantankerous minds of those portrayed in ‘White Magnolias’. The heartfelt folk ballad ‘Loneliness’ encompasses a sad nostalgia, reminiscing about things you both thought you’d forgotten and ultimately don’t want to remember. ‘Honest Mistake’ explores how external pressure can impact and derail a couple before the final track ‘Imitation’ lays bare the vulnerable, visceral insecurities of a person who lost himself while trying to keep someone else.
‘White Magnolias’ may not be a joyous project, but at no point is it bleak or hopeless. The title-track, for example, walks the tightrope of trying to hold a relationship together when you are personally falling apart but ultimately acknowledges that the love they share is more powerful than anything else.
The EP is full of rise and fall, both in terms of sentiment and soundscape. The record starts with sonorous strings and ends with a stripped-back piano, having travelled through electronic beats, saxophone riffs, and the more classic folk guitar sound that the band are better known for.
As a standalone EP, ‘White Magnolias’ is a lamenting, cynical look at lost love. Pair it with ‘First Loves’, though, and it becomes a poised yet heartbreaking ending to what has been a very impressive year for Bear’s Den.