We all know the feeling. Your favourite band announces a new album and you really look forward to hearing it. Sometimes it’s just quiet anticipation, sometimes we can’t wait and count the minutes. With this one, I’ve been watching the clock for the last year. A year past in December I interviewed Phil Campbell and he told me then that the album just needed some final touches and it would be done. It’s been a loooooong wait since then, and coupled with the bands growing success and touring across the States with Blackberry Smoke and the Rolling Stones there hasn’t even been a UK tour to tide me over. It’s been like going cold turkey for thirteen excruciating months.
Today is the day. Today White Bear finally appeared in my inbox and all is right with the world. It will be released this Friday, January 15th. A few tracks are familiar, with Battle Lines and White Bear having made an appearance on the previous UK tour, and singles Three Bulleits and Oh Lorraine having been on heavy rotation on the radio for the last few weeks. That said, the majority of this is brand new to me and I can’t get to the laptop quick enough, or play it loud enough. This is the new album from The Temperance Movement, and in my house that’s a major event.
White Bear starts with the first single taken from it, Three Bulleits. No, it’s not a spelling mistake, Bulleit is a brand of bourbon. It’s a pretty raucous start to the album and as catchy as all hell. There’s absolutely no way it’s not going to get the crowds bouncing on tour. It’s followed by Get Yourself Free, which for me is the track that really shows off how far this band has come in a relatively short space of time. I remember seeing them in late 2013 at Oran Mor in Glasgow, and the venue was so small and intimate that they were able to perform Chinese Lanterns completely unplugged. As Phil belted out the lyrics without the aid of a microphone he could still be heard in every corner of the room. I feel incredibly lucky to have witnessed that because let me tell you, it won’t be happening again. This is a band who went from that to performing in front of sold out stadia across Europe and America with the Stones and the experience of that shows on White Bear. Get Yourself Free, and White Bear as a whole, has immense production values. That’s not to say the self titled debut album didn’t, but the band has grown and their sound has grown with them. A Pleasant Peace I Feel is the same, it’s so layered you have to listen a few times to truly appreciate how much has gone into it. It’s expansive and while Paul Sayer in a recent interview said he’d hesitate to use the word “anthemic” to describe the new album I have no problem in applying the word to A Pleasant Peace I Feel. He said that what he meant was that this isn’t an album that could really be played in the smaller venues the band cut their teeth in, and he’s right. The unplugged days are gone, this is now a band with some serious experience behind them, they’ve grown up and White Bear reflects that in it’s composition.
Modern Massacre is where Phil Campbell gets to really let rip. I’ve met Phil a few times and he’s not a big man but what a set of pipes he’s got on him. He’s like nothing you’ve ever heard; rocky, soulful, quiet, loud, rough, smooth. There’s unquantifiable amounts of passion inside him and when he steps on stage it just explodes. If Modern Massacre makes it onto the setlist he’s going to shake venues to their very foundations.
The following two tracks are familiar, Battle Lines and White Bear both having gone over well on the previous UK tour. Battle Lines is one of those tracks that grabs you by the feet and makes you groove. With Nick and Damon keeping the rhythm ticking along, guitar solos to go wild to and a bit of “do do do do do” to join in with it is literally the perfect song, it’s got everything. Title track White Bear is an immense piece of music that starts off with a scream and a crash, becomes quiet, soft and slow then builds into an absolute epic. It’s followed by second single Oh Lorraine and Magnify. Magnify is a pretty good metaphor for what the band have created with White Bear. It’s classic Temperance Movement. It still has the emotion, the passion, the sheer delight in music of the first album, it’s just bigger. Magnified.
The Sun and Moon Roll Around continues the theme. It’s unmistakably Temperance Movement, as a band they’ve really developed a sound all of their own, revolving around that incredible voice. As the album closes with I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind I can finally take a deep breath of satisfaction. The band have been running a very clever marketing campaign over the last few weeks, with the hashtag “Don’t think about White Bear” popping up everywhere. The name is based on a quote from Dostoevsky, ‘Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.’ White Bear has been on my mind since before I knew its name. You know that feeling when you really want something to be as good as you hope? I’m finally able to say White Bear is everything I hoped for and more. It’s bigger, more accomplished, more mature but has the raw heart and soul of The Temperance Movement oozing from it’s every pore. It’s magnificent.
- Three Bulleits
- Get Yourself Free
- A Pleasant Peace I Feel
- Modern Massacre
- Battle Lines
- White Bear
- Oh Lorraine
- The Sun and Moon Roll Around
- I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind
Jan. 16 – Portsmouth, UK – Pyramid Centre
Jan. 17 – Norwich, UK – The Waterfront – NOTE VENUE CHANGE
Jan. 19 – Aberdeen, UK – Beach Ballroom
Jan. 20 – Glasgow, UK – Barrowland
Jan. 21 – Newcastle, UK – University
Jan. 22 – Leeds, UK – Becket University
Jan. 24 – Manchester, UK – Academy 2
Jan. 25 – Birmingham, UK – Institute
Jan. 26 – Cardiff, UK – Y Plas
Jan. 27 – London, UK – O2 Forum, Kentish Town – NOTE VENUE CHANGE