Bearfoot Beware – World Owes You Nowt

world owes you nowt

Bearfoot Beware – World Owes You Nowt

The first time I listened to Bearfoot Beware’s debut album World Owes You Nowt, I got a sinking feeling. Not because I didn’t like it — on the contrary, I felt discouraged because I knew that this was the kind of album that demands multiple listens to be fully appreciated. It’s the kind of complex, multi-layered album that you want to get to know over a period of weeks or months. Sadly, this writer did not have that luxury, so instead I settled in for a marathon of back-to-back listens.

Bearfoot Beware sounds a bit like a mathier, more British Fugazi. They’re a tight three-piece consisting of a guitarist and bassist who both contribute vocals (Tom Bradley and Richard Vowden, respectively) and drummer Michael Osborne. All three are clearly very talented, and the tension that the tricky compositions create between them is dynamic. This is exuberant music full of catchy hooks and bouncy, syncopated riffs. It’s hard not to like.

World Owes You Nowt is a study in contrast. It starts humbly with an atmospheric but unnecessary intro track (called simply “Intro”) which segues into “Thick Black Warpaint,” a strong beginning that nicely establishes their style. The composition ricochets between head-banging rock-out moments and more sensitive, melodic guitar interludes, all of it in delightfully screwy time signatures that make my eyeballs twitch. “He Should Have Died As A Kid,” which is both the name and the entire lyrical content of the second track, is a catchy single, and lots of fun. “Ongoing Opera” starts out slow and dreamy, becoming harsher and more angular over the course of the track. “tRad Rr BarRfight” (sic) has denser lyrics and more vocal action than the previous songs, containing both pleasing melodic hooks and its fair share of raw, desperate screaming. “Smoker” is characterized by bright, cheerful guitar strumming, and “Mumzee” features some surprising vocal harmonies over a shifting, driving drumbeat. “E By Gum” is propelled forward by a memorable rolling bassline. “The Right Honorable” finishes off the album. It has complex lyrics with a manifesto feeling, combined with powerful guitar riffs and frenetic drumbeats. It makes for a strong ending.

You don’t have to be a fan of math to enjoy World Owes You Nowt. The songwriting is melodic and ear-catching, with an intelligent pop sentiment that prevents the music from being too cerebral. There’s more to Bearfoot Beware than technical skill and tricky rhythms – there’s also a lot of heart.