There’s a nod to the illusory tangles that we all allow ourselves to get mixed up in, with every song from the New York group Bear Ceuse. There’s a belief that there’s something out there that we’re missing. We’re trying to woo it. Swooning and charming though we are, it remains at arm’s length, or just on the other side of a thick glass or plasma screen. It’s not so much elusive as it is foggy and only half there. It could be that we should stop looking or we could just squint and grab a better picture, but there’s something that keeps us looking and yearning. They wonder where the magic went, where it might have returned to, in the song, “All Out Of A Hat.” Right there in the title, we understand where it came from, though that’s a bit of a tricky distinction as it is too – this thought that the magic resides in a hat, with hare and a deck of cards, ready to be beckoned with a wand and a few choice, nonsensical words. If this is the only place the magic can be found, that’s a problem. If it can all arise out of a hat and drop back into one, there’s little reasoning to be done.
The four men of Bear Ceuse take us through these bleak wonders, mostly when they’re less bleak than they otherwise should be. They take us to a seat on the couch, in a pair of hand-me-down pajamas, where a story of a childhood is recounted – one in which, a little boy felt he was unremarkable, screaming out at the television set to entertain him. There’s not much complication in the song, but it’s a perfect set-up for these stories of minimal or workaday magic – the practical kind that can be seen through, that can be roughed up and abused. It’s not to be marveled at. It will evaporate. There’s nothing all that special about it, for it lives in a hat.
They post these feelings along with a raw-fingered and sweet-tongued approach that occasionally reminds us of the pastures and woods that Denton’s Midlake, or Seattle’s Fleet Foxes. These are basic odysseys, that anyone can experience. There are plenty of hum-drum parts, made to look favorable, made to feel desirable – even that part with the TV screen. They sing, “There you go, you run away, into the streets of something good,” trying to make that splash.