Click to hear: “Bummers_Lament”
As with books, you can’t judge an album by its cover. If you did, you’d undoubtedly mistake Peter Squires’ Where the Bunny Meets the Bear for children’s music and miss one of the sweetest indie-rock/alt-folk releases of the year.
Squires is a Long Islander who moved to the southern Maine town of Eliot not long ago. He plays drums in a rock band called The Landladys and is half of a freak-folk duo called The Farthest Forests. Bunny, his second solo album, is a mix of electric and acoustic numbers that bridge the sound of his other groups.
The opener, “Two Bunnies,” is a gentle strummer that actually could be a children’s song, albeit a weird one. To bears, the titular bunnies are like the Grim Reaper. They show up to lead a bear’s soul into the afterlife, where bears and bunnies “jump for joy in pastures green,” presumably for eternity.
Next up is “Creator/Destroyer,” a relationship song that, like two other tracks on Bunny (“I Wanted to Kiss You” and “Lovers”), calls to mind the awkward innocence of Portland Gospel-folk sensation Dan Knudsen and Elf Princess Gets a Harley’s Sings “Songs About Girls.” Like Knudsen, Squires has an endearing habit of trying to shoehorn too many syllables into his lines. And like Knudsen and Elf Princess’ Brandon Davis, Squires delivers his lovelorn odes with the earnestness of a sad-eyed puppy. Makes you just want to hug the guy.
The rockier material here is all quality. Squires plays pretty much everything — guitar, bass, drums — and judiciously adds a few other instruments, like the fun trombone on “If I Hadn’t Changed.” The rocker “Heaven” (death is a theme on Bunny) has a particularly good bridge and chorus, and the grungy road song “Go Forth” sports the memorable lyric, “Just because life hands you pain and loss / Don’t mean you can’t show that motherfucker who’s boss.” (Like I said, not a kids’ record.)
But the “single” here is definitely “Bummer’s Lament,” a remarkably candid song about depression with melodies so lovely it’s almost impossible to be sad listening to it. Mara Flynn’s guest vocals bring this one over the top into true greatness.
Bunny wraps up with a happy little country plucker called “Mississippi Noodle Hound,” about a dog that lifted Squires’ spirits when he was low. It’s the perfect cap to this charming album about sadness and oblivion.
— Chris Busby
Where the Bunny Meets the Bear can be heard and purchased on Squires’ Bandcamp page.