Sombear – Love You In The Dark

written by: August 2, 2013
Album-art-for-Love-You-In-The-Dark-by-Sombear Release Date: July 23, 2013


Sombear, aka Minneapolis native Brad Hale, known for his work with Now, Now, produces a debut solo album that sounds like a hip, pop music video game. Each beat is carefully crafted and distinct from the others, but collectively, they make an album that is enchanting.

Hale’s skill lies in the production. He has admitted to being a fan of pop stars like Britney Spears and N*Sync before getting into more electronic music in high school, and these influences are heard in each track. Each drumbeat or synth chord sounds strategically placed. The way each track progresses is exemplary of Hale’s craftsmanship.

One of the most intriguing beats is on the opening song, “Incredibly Still.” Depth is created by the steady percussion counteracting the marimbic echoes. In contrast, the guitars on late album track “The Good” makes it nearly sound like pop-rock.

All of the sounds that Hale generates are unique, creating an extensive vocabulary from which he constructs his beats.

While each track sounds different from the next, the album maintains coherence through Hale’s production. The repetition of clearly electronic sounds are reminiscent of a chillwave rendition of early Daft Punk with hints of pop-rock influence. These beats resonate throughout Love You In The Dark.

Most of the tracks are slower, bass-heavy ballads with groove-worthy rhythms. In addition to the pop and dance influences, elements of R&B are particularly noticeable on the track “Rich Hair.” The slow R&B beats are combined with synth, and stand out when Hale soulfully sings in a high, occasionally whiny voice.

Throughout Love You In The Dark, it sounds like Hale dabbles in some instrumentation that is reminiscent of ’80s New Wave. He has clearly mastered conceptualizing his sound.

Occasionally altered by auto-tune, Hale sings soulfully. While the instrumentation is interesting and bountiful, the lyrics are weak in comparison. The title track, “Love You in the Dark,” isn’t as lyrically captivating as one might hope. Hale sings, “I can’t love you in the dark/I can’t love you when the light’s not around/I can’t love you in the dark/I can’t find my way around.” While there seems to be some deep intention behind the lyrics, they are underdeveloped and shallow. 

This is where Hale falls short. He creates wonderful beats, but then the lyrical content can’t hold its own. The album might actually be stronger if it didn’t have vocals at all.

The highly peppy “Never Say Baby” is a more interesting, hip rendition of a pop song. The beat makes one want to dance, and includes the lines, “Baby, baby come on/I never use this word/But I feel it between us/Yeah, I feel it between us.” The song is so poppy that it could be a Top 40 hit if it were sung by someone like Selena Gomez or Miley Cyrus. 

Hale is a very talented producer and musician, but most of the songs do not have much substance. They read as emotional, passionate love songs, but lack creativity.

It will be interesting to see where this latest work from Sombear takes him; potentially intriguing future collaborations could come out of this. Hale could easily produce for someone other than himself, which could open up his musical opportunities.

Sombear’s debut album is worth a listen, and a solid effort on Hale’s part. He clearly conceptualized a wonderful sound for himself that works well, but the lyrics, and perhaps even Hale’s voice, need to step it up in the future.

Sombear – Love You In The Dark tracklist:

  1. “Incredibly Still”
  2. “The Way We Are”
  3. “LA”
  4. “Love You In The Dark”
  5. “Easy Thief”
  6. “Loose Ship”
  7. “Never Say Baby”
  8. “2002”
  9. “The Good”
  10. “Rich Hair”