Reviewed by Darcie Stevens, Fri., Sept. 8, 2006
Austin fivepiece Golden Bear is as innocent as the day it was born. Led by Chris "Grizzle" Gregory, the jubilant troupe shoos away apathy on their eponymous debut. Pied-piping listeners through dew-tapped meadows of sweet scent, opener "A Reason to Be Proud" is arena enthusiasm from a first-timer; dueling guitars battle bounce and tambourine, sway taking the lead from beat. Self-deprecating euphoria comes full circle in LP highlight "Ten Thousand Orchestras," as hope usurps the throne of caution. Bearing the stamp of simple pop ("Wonderful," "Silent Prayer") and synth ("Santa Rosa"), Golden Bear doesn't fit into any mold. While matching wits with Voxtrot in the jolly "Golden Bear Revival Stomp" and Texas blues with "The Saddest Songs," the Bear doesn't ignore melancholy either (a climactic "Lady Soul"). "Victory Is Ours" is naive and bittersweet, while closer "Amazing Edward" comes across soft, hopeful, and complete. Golden Bear is that preteen strolling through a carnival, all eyes on the prizes. Whether this trust blasts from a trumpet or sneaks out from under Gregory's delicate voice is hard to tell, but soon this man will be that bear. Let's just hope reality doesn't get the best of him first.