Your first instinct on hearing Eliza and the Bear may be to make a connection with Noah and the Whale. After all, they sound like similar propositions – [Name] and the [Animal]. Learning that Eliza and the Bear take their name from a poem by Eleanor Rees doesn’t do much to deter the comparison either (Eliza take their name from a poem about a man who gives birth, Noah take their name from a film by Noah Baumbach, potato/poh-tah-to). Both Eliza and the Bear and Noah and the Whale are also, emphatically and unapologetically, pop. All of which is to say: if you like Noah and the Whale, check out Eliza and the Bear, you’ll lap their debut up.
This is an album of strident, festival friendly prettiness. Anthems abound. Easily remembered choruses. Circular chants. It’s hard to resist. You’d have to be pretty damn curmudgeonly and cooler than school to resist. Eliza and the Bear only really have one setting: fun. Each song bursts out of the starting gates, from album opener “Friends” (with its repeated refrain of “I’ve got friends / I’ve got family here”, which you can sing along to after less than a single listen) to album closer “I’m on Your Side” (which begins in low key fashion, like a Money B-side, but quickly ramps up the singalong chanty chorus). Eliza and the Bear can’t help themselves. In between you have over a dozen songs, all of which crowd and elbow one another to be the next obvious single. It is, as they say, all killer and no filler. Or not quite killer – Eliza and the Bear are too cuddly for that. Let’s say it’s all nice and there’s nothing here that isn’t nice.
This is music made for the best day ever. This is an album to fall in love to (and with). It’s young, sure (and it’s going to be interesting to see how their music changes whenever anything bad happens to any of them) but it’s full of beautiful hope. This is the soundtrack to the world I’d like to live in, the world that probably doesn’t exist. They key is to close your eyes very, very tight turn up the music very, very loud and together we can all pretend that everything will be as great as Eliza and the Bear think it can be. Now if they will only cover “Lean on Me” by Red Box, my life will be complete.