There’s a fine line to be walked when dealing with the cute ‘n’ kitschy, but Boris Smile treads it well on the Beartooth EP. To be fair, it’s not excessively kitschy; surface glances yield melancholic indie folk. But it’s the topics that central songwriter A. Wesley Chung matches to his orchestral pieces that lend Beartooth extra quality. Sure, “Hour of the Wolf” and “Books of Blank Pages” cover traditional approaches to alienation and relationships, but both become a little more literal on “Program Me to Love,” a tune about robot romance. More importantly, the opening track, “Beartooth (spooky version)” is about the power of bears. And fans of the Lewis and Clark Expedition will tell you, bears are to be feared and respected.
Chung ties these novel ideas to stirring compositions, which is what makes Beartooth so memorable. There’s a long list of performers on the EP who handle horns, synths, strings, and choir vocals, and Chung puts ’em all to work. The result: lush indie pop. It’s got more balls than twee – I cannot overstate how much I love songs about bears – and a little more lyrical variety to boot. And it’s not like Boris Smile is all novelties all the time – there’s real heartfelt sadness on “Hour of the Wolf.” So pick your poison – Loneliness? BEARS?! Boris Smile’s got it covered.