Eliza and the Bear – ‘Group Therapy’
Upbeat indie quintet Eliza and the Bear have created a touching new album that completely redefines their sound. The band were previously signed to Capitol Records, but with a different sound comes a different label; Be-Known Music is a newly established record company with a DIY ethos. Their artists are given as much creative freedom as they desire, and Eliza and the Bear have taken this freedom and run with it for their new album, Group Therapy.
Title track ‘Group Therapy’ is little over a minute long, but it highlights the vocal power of James Kellegher. The spoken word at the start is a theme that flows through the album, tying it together in a coherent way. Kellegher’s lyrics hint at the themes to come, and the gentle piano is the perfect accompaniment for this short track.
‘Group Therapy’ gives way to ‘I Wanna Feel It’, and Eliza and the Bear’s rebrand becomes obvious. The direction change between the two tracks is stark, but this upbeat pop song is brilliant. The band have combined elements of retro pop with their own fun sound, and the results are wonderful. While there’s a repetitive side to this new pop style, there are so many elements at play throughout the tracks, things still feel fresh and enjoyable.
Funky and danceable, ‘Higher’ has a speedy bassline and trumpets that sing of positivity. The style of this track comes as a shock but is a welcome break from a few tracks that are more filler than killer. These new upbeat songs are sure to be a hit when added to Eliza and the Bear’s setlist – the toe-tapping rhythm and anthemic choruses are bound to get even the dreariest of rooms up and singing.
‘First Aid’ takes yet another new turn, slowing things down and suggesting that this is a record of two halves. Musically, this track is reserved; the droning bass and minimal drums have impact by giving Kellegher’s lyrics a place to shine. This buoyant pop band have allowed themselves to be real for a few moments here, their vulnerable lyrics telling listeners that there’s nothing wrong with reaching out. This is definitely a song with clout; each element has been executed perfectly to create this track.
Musically, ‘Rerun’ is jarring. It’s a soft track that brings two contrasting styles together. The old Eliza and the Bear sound is being played with here, but it brings in some digitalised elements which take focus away from the lyrics. This track is filled with emotion and pain, but this only comes across towards the end when one style becomes the focus.
‘Sweat Out the Small Stuff’ closes Group Therapy in a cheery, positive manner. Eliza and the Bear have managed to write a funky pop song which simultaneously feels retro and new. The lyrics are cleverly written, and brilliantly performed. The growth in the song from start to finish is stunning, as synths give way to a solid bassline, punchy drums, and yet more trumpets! This tune really grabs the attention, and it’s almost a shame to wait until the end of the record to hear it.
Some tracks throughout Group Therapy feel incredibly repetitive, but Eliza and the Bear’s risk of changing their sound has paid off. This record was clearly written with live shows in mind and will fit perfectly with the existing songs in Eliza and the Bear’s repertoire.
Review: Dottie Giles