2013 has been a truly momentous year for London alt-folk three-piece Bear's Den. It started with a sold out UK headline tour, tailed with the release of their debut EP proper, Agape: a critically acclaimed release built around soaring harmonies and delicately crafted songs about love and mortality. The months that followed included support slots for Mumford & Sons and Daughter on the UK and US legs of the Gentlemen of the Road tour respectively, and a current tour of Australia with former Communion label-mate, Matt Corby.

To what do they owe their success? Well, first and foremost it is down to principle songwriter Davie's exceptional ability to write beautiful melodies, backed by heartfelt lyrics, which fall just the right side of sensitive - a talent which was plain to see in his previous band, Cherbourg. At times Bear's Den show slight hints of Mumford in the heavy use of harmonies and occasional foot-stomping banjo moments, but on the whole they're a more subtle and stripped back proposition, knowing when a more refined touch is required.

This leads us up unto the present, and the release of the band's new EP, Without/Within, on Communion Records. The opener is a six minute split-track, 'Saharah Pt 1 & 2', with the former's pitchy, distorted instrumentation leading to the latter's melody driven lament to failed relationships; repeated around the lyric "All my life I was wasn't honest enough, and I thought I would never get over you." Ironically a sincere honesty is musically one of the band's biggest strengths.

Without/Within's highest point comes in the form of a re-recording of an old Cherbourg b-side, 'Don't Let the Sun Steal You Away'. The narrator tells of being the other man to a girl in an unhappy relationship, her inability to end the relationship, and the pain it inflicts upon him. "I don't want to touch you in the night, if I cannot hold you in the day" cries Davies, broken by the "sun slowly rising" leading to her leaving his side for the other man. His final desperate plea to his lover is to "just let your mind come around to your heart." It's a truly moving track, and showcases the quality which they are able to achieve.

Unfortunately the EP doesn't quite manage to maintain these heights, and though the three songs which remain work well individually, thematically the formula of forlorn love and loss begins to feel like just that, a formula. To have the darkness, you must also have light, and Without/Within feels too often like it's just too many similar shades. 'Sophie' is a track which embodies this, picking it's way along pleasantly, all the while feeling like it's on the verge of something special, but it never quite materializes. Whilst the EP does come to a slightly more dramatic end with closer, 'My Lair', it still feels like there is something missing - like there's more that the band could give, but they're a little scared to stray from what's expected from them. They're a band who show great promise, and overall it's a good EP, but if they want to take the step up to achieve something truly great, they may well have to step a little further from their comfort zone.