Moulettes Bear's RevengeThese adventurous cousins of the Mumfords flash a Gothic underbelly beneath their chestful of musical medals.

The Bear's Revenge
Artist: Moulettes
Label: Balling the Jack
Length: 12 Tracks / 56 minutes

This one is has been around for a little while, but I only discovered it at Greenbelt in a short set near the end of a lengthy promo tour that must have seen the band's van wear out a few parts. Their harmonies literally stopped me in my tracks as I was crossing in front of the mainstage.

While the exhilarating 30 minute set cherry-picked the best from this album and the next, the recorded material is not a disappointment.

My live impression was of the Indigo girls doing Everley Brothers harmonies, incorporating snatches of Tallis, and subverting the lot with some dark Decemberists surrealist attitude. I hear a lot more of their female Gentle Giant approach in the recorded set: it is slightly quirky, happy to go in unexpected directions, but with a solid musical base and constant harmonies. It is all peppered with splashes of fiery Balkan fiddle.

Those who like their music more mainstream can also find treasures here, such as “Songbird.,” a wistful, acoustic gem. Opening track “Sing Unto Me” is even better, exhibiting the sort of invigorating, folky pop that you might get if Laura Marling fronted Songs From the Wood-era Jethro Tull.

Apart from the harmonies, the band's sound is heavily strings-based: cello, guitar, fiddle, auto-harp and upright bass all blaze together, with only some propulsive drumming below it and occasional bassoon on top.

Any band that blends, by their own confession, “Folk, prog and classical” must have a strong musical sensibility and this band is tremendously tight through all the tricky bits – try “Unlock the Doors” on YouTube for a sense of that. While they do sometimes seem to go in awkward directions for the sake of it, most of the time they reign in that impulse.

Together with some-time alumnus Ted Dwayne of Mumford and Sons, they are already recording their third album, which includes songs like “Bloodshed in the Woodshed”. Maybe I've spent too much time with Cold Comfort Farm, but that title seems to sum up their tongue-in-cheek literary Gothic folk.

If that blend of folk, prog and classical excites you, they are definitely worth investigation.


Derek Walker

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