On their catchy new album Hello, It’s You— a November release from Pure Noise Records— Toronto’s Bearings carry a vibrantly invigorating pop punk torch. The group’s songs frequently hinge on upbeat and forward-moving riffs, and the tracks pulsate with emotionally dynamic waves of tension and relief that feel realistic and organic. For instance: on the record’s opening track “Better Yesterday,” Bearings smoothly switch between vivaciously chest-thumping portions and moments that lean into a more contemplative feel.
The songs’ wavering vibrancy makes the record feel like getting whisked through some of the real-life scenarios spelled out across Hello, It’s You, which deals with themes like the push-and-pull of romantic uncertainty.
“I know a lot of bands go into the studio and they kind of aim for a certain concept or a certain theme. Usually they try to do a good chunk of the writing, maybe lyrically, in that time, so that it all kind of ties together— but we don’t really do that,” Bearings vocalist Doug Cousins shares. “Some of the songs were written right after we put out Blue In The Dark [in 2018]. But I don’t know – I guess it’s a different record, in the sense that generally we don’t do the whole breakup songs and things like that, but there’s a little bit more of that on this one. We also stay true to what we’ve always written about, with trying to see both sides of things and life in general, in the sense of trying to apply a bit more of a broad scope on how fragile life is, and how important it is, and why it’s also important to try and see the positives in it sometimes.”
This perspective shines through in the sound of Hello, It’s You. The songs feel rich, with shimmering flourishes and a nice breadth to the sonic experience, that together make the album feel a bit like walking through a starlit park while mentally working through the emotional turmoil at hand. Some of the poignant touches across Hello, It’s You include the gently swaying, prominent acoustic guitar part on “Lovely Lovely” and the emo rap across “Dreams.” Bearings also present a sizable helping of upbeat punk, and through it all, Cousins’s singing sounds soulfully energetic.
Cousins and the other folks in Bearings – guitarists Ryan Culligan and Ryan Fitz, bassist Collin Hanes, and drummer Mike McKerracher – drew from a wide palette of inspiration. “Transient Colors,” for instance, hearkens back to the U.K. rock band Oasis.
Cousins explains: “I was listening to a lot of Oasis at the time, and I was really like – I wanna do a chorus, because they have all these sort of longer, more drawn parts. The way the vocal melodies are on a lot of their stuff, they’re stretched out. They have these kind of soaring chorus parts, and I was like it’d be cool to do something like that on a song. I just kinda gotta see where the record goes and luckily our guitarist Fitz, he wrote pretty much all the instrumentation for [“Transient Colors”], and when I heard it, I was like I think this is the one, you know?”
Cousins also cites The Beatles and The 1975 as inspirations, adding that he definitely sees a lot of generally inspiring music out there.
“I feel like there’s so much great music now,” he says. “Whether it’s some of our friends’ bands, like the guys in Between You & Me, or some of the more Canadiana-type bands. Like, I’ve always been a massive fan of Tokyo Police Club. They’re not pop in the way they used to be. There’s just so much: even bands like The 1975 obviously have such a huge influence on everything now, and for good reason. They write incredibly good music. I feel like a lot of people are drawing inspiration from them right now. There’s nothing wrong with that. I feel like we’re probably in that space too, but we still try to keep it relatively rocky, relatively punk, you know?”
During the actual songwriting process for Hello, It’s You, Cousins says that the members of Bearings tended to write while at a computer. For their melody and hook-oriented music, Cousins feels like the tools available on a computer are not only productive, but also helpfully effective framework for songwriting.
“It’s pretty rare that we all get together in a room and jam,” he says. “I feel the absolute best way to write is usually to sit down at a computer and demo it out, because you can hear absolutely everything. You can build it, and you can add any sound you want. You can throw in a spliced sample if you want. That was, I think, a little bit more the style of writing on this record, and it’s definitely, in my opinion, the better way to write for a genre, anything that’s a little bit more pop-oriented.”
Songs on Hello, It’s You like “Sway” definitely carry a heavy punk vibe – but the rhythms don’t feel oppressive or pained. The force feels more like it carries a particularly sharpened dose of emotional energy. On tracks like “I Feel It All,” Bearings maintain plenty of noticeable breathing space in their rhythms, which end up feeling rather bright. On Hello, It’s You, Bearings sound secure. No matter the emotionally rich side-steps, Bearings always tend to swing back to more direct energy, with light emerging over the metaphorical horizon.
This direct energy carries over into the band’s live shows, and Cousins explains that Bearings work to keep a rather high intensity.
“I think when we play live, we’ll probably not be regularly playing songs like “Lovely Lovely,” for example, because we generally always try to have a more upbeat, more energy-driven show,” he says. “Doing stuff like that is always cool for headliners. It’s also kind of funny, because those songs have happened to be some of our songs that have done the best – songs like “Blue In The Dark” and “Tide” – and I wouldn’t be surprised if a song like “Lovely Lovely” people also really enjoyed.”
The latest record from Bearings lands amidst turmoil – to say the least – but the album still delivers some perhaps needed brightness.
“I don’t think it was necessarily incredibly intentional, but I think there is” a thread of optimism across Hello, It’s You, Cousins shares.
“I think I kind of have to be that way a little bit,” he says. “I kind of have to write that way a little bit, because I find it not very genuine to write the saddest most unhopeful thing and to not try and see some positive, or some sort of silver lining in something.”
Photo courtesy of Bearings
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