Wicked Bears - self-titled (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Wicked Bears

self-titled (2016)

Hidden Home Records

With some catchy pop punk rooted in an DIY sound, the Wicked Bears aim high but, in the end, slip a bit and miss the mark.

This album is fun and catchy. The moments of genius are interspersed with enough questionable choices. The result is that there's an uneasy listening experience.

The music, either intentionally or not (although I believe it is the former), comes across very lo-fi and raw. A noisy sound of imperfection and under-production that feels very fresh. The bass lines are wild and creative, not content to simply provide a foundation for the music to rest on. They hit the right notes to make you grin, full of pep and energy.

The same hold trues for the percussion. While the drummer is definitely up to snuff, keeping the beat while adding the right fills and drum rolls, this is one of the places where that raw production hinders instead of helps. The drums sounded incredibly flat and empty. Instead of relaying power and energy, the drums seem almost as if they were shuffled into the background. We all know that pop punk lives and breathes on present and insistent percussion, and I think the drummer is under-represented here.

Underneath the bouncy exterior of the songs lie some deep or, at times, attempts at deep lyrics. This is where we find the dichotomy. For every witty verse, delivered with just the right tone and cadence, there was one that tried to reach too far, be too insightful and clever, or was just poorly timed. There is repetition of a key verse or chorus at points that aims to be rallying, sing-along moments, but this is often done on some of the more dull or uninteresting lyrics.  

All of that aside, it is fun to listen to, if not terribly memorable. “On Second Thought, Let’s Not” is the clear standout track of the album, displaying all that this group can be. While the rhythm of the chorus is a bit derivative of a few 90’s radio classics, the song is still delivered with heart, gusto, and lyrics that are relatable to just about anyone. I'd give this song itself five stars, it is that good.

Wicked Bears’ debut album is both parts hit and miss. Some songs stand out a bit while others fall a bit flat. Because of this, the album ends up as only average. If you are a fan of this style of punk, they are definitely worth keeping an eye on, as the potential for growth and improvement is there.