Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Bear Hands song, "High Society," from the Brooklyn band's debut full-length, "Burning Bush Supper Club," drops us into the conflict of two friends, working on the same personal problem, though for one, it feels like something seem as otherwise. A guy named Frank is writing his friend, the narrator, notes that are conversational, chit-chat-like streams of thought. They're not cries for help, but more the kinds of curious inquiries, with the idea that if the answer might be affirmative, it would make everything so much easier. One of Frank's notes asks the friend how his family's doing and another gets a lot more personal. Frank states, "I am so lonely," and then asks, "Would you be my lover?" The narrator isn't having any of it. He or she's lonely too, but that's not something that's worrying them. It's not being seen as something that needs fixing. They respond to Frank in a disagreeable way, with a round of no's. It's not clear if the thought is just laughably dismissed or if it's just emphatically pushed aside. It's not like it matters too much. They're not going to be lovers and there's a chance that there will be no lovers had by the narrator any time soon as they suggest, "I'm engaged to be alone." It's an interesting way for Bear Hands lead singer Dylan Rau to say such a thing. It's as if taking the idea of being lonely and turning it into a monogamous relationship, something that should be respected and honored, the same way a diamond on the ring finger should be treated. He or she loved their loneliness and they were devoted to keeping it, even when a broken friend needed companionship more than anything else. They were begging for love, looking for it in a place that they probably shouldn't have been looking for it. Elsewhere on "Burning Bush Supper Club," Rau is thinking again about loneliness, exploring society and its pettiness and where it leads - people getting sacrificed, people getting dropped. The cynicism seems to have been worn down in places and then it spikes up in others. For the better part of a record that gets red and noisy in key moments, Rau is less angry about the plights that his characters are on and rather subdued by them, as if this acceptance of them is an important part of the maturation process. We grow up and we get lonelier when we always thought it was going to be the other way around.