It’s OK – these Bears still don’t bite

Joe Shearer

Bears’ new album offers same cotton candy sound

Credit: Courtesy Bears

Credit: DKS Editors

Sunshine. Clear blue skies. Seventy-five degrees. Cotton candy.

Collectively, these are the ideal conditions under which to experience something as harmless and carefree-sounding as Bears’ music. That’s Bears, not the Bears.

On the group’s second album, “Simple Machinery,” Clevelanders Charlie McArthur and Craig Ramsey orchestrate sugary, acoustic pop songs peppered with keyboards, handclaps, bells, glockenspiels and tambourines. They build on the simple formula of short and sweet, with only three of the 13 tracks breaking the three-minute barrier.



Simple Machinery

Self-released album, vinyl co-released with Pink Teeth

Stater rating (out of five) ****

How easy, then, it is to one moment helplessly smile during “Wait and See,” only to be iffy on an airier, less-straightforward “Another Tiger Romance.” Indifference doesn’t last long. The beauty of these tunes is heard after only a few listens, nearly every song delivers with a splash of varied colors.

The sunny, psychedelic vibes (I know, it’s hard to grasp anything sunny coming from one of the dreariest areas in the country.) especially shine through on “Letting It Go,” and “Since I Met You,” demonstrating a serious ability to construct a pastel, papier-mƒché dream world of white puffy clouds and triangular green trees.

While performing live, Bears goes from a twosome to a quintet, adding such characters as curly-pirate-mustached Kent State student and bassist Sean Sullivan, as well as the charming glockenspiel queen, Devon Coffee, in all her bobbed-hairstyle glory.

Key member McArthur is moving to Chicago soon, so it may be some time before fans have the opportunity to see the group. However, the songwriter has expressed commitment in keeping the band together. For the sheer sake of pop music, we can only hope he keeps to his word.

Contact all reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].