Published Nov 17, 2020Bearings' first record, Blue in the Dark, has to rank among the better debuts in the recent history of pop-punk. By 2018, they had spent enough time slogging away in basements and studying the songwriting and style of their forebears to be able to make a big splash. Bringing to mind groups like Transit, Moose Blood and a little bit of Jimmy Eat World, this Ottawa band emerged onto the scene fully formed and eager to surprise.
With their sophomore effort, Bearings have set out to prove they can hang with the hottest names in modern pop-punk — and they're shooting even higher. Produced by Courtney Ballard (Good Charlotte, Super Whatevr, Emarosa), Hello, It's You finds the Ottawa band making a significant leap from underdog ambition to big-league pop fantasies.
Bearings are still playing and recording with the confidence of a band that has been doing this for many years. Hello, It's You is loaded up with punchy choruses and catchy hooks — just try listening to "Sway" once and see if you don't have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
The thing is, this album isn't so sure what exactly it wants to be. "Better Yesterday" and "Sway" phenomenally recapture the feeling of the 2000s — an era of Canadian pop culture that brought us Simple Plan and Degrassi: The Next Generation. The made-for-arenas "Super Deluxe" and "So Damn Wrong" feel like a logical result of the 1975's invasion of the Spotify playlists of rock musicians. "Lovely Lovely" is a sunny, honey-coated tune that Patrick Monahan would be happy to sing. "Over Now" and "I Feel It All" tap into the pop-minded alt-rock of contemporaries like Trophy Eyes, Boston Manor and Seaway. It's these later songs, along with the heavy-hitting closer "Transient Colours," where Bearings feel most at home. Conversely, they fall prey to the pervasiveness of Soundcloud rap on "Dreams," sounding like a Post Malone tune sung by Jordan Pundik in what sticks out as the album's only clear-cut misfire.
There's no inherent reason this band can't bring all these sounds together under the Bearings banner, but they'd be better off tailoring the material to fit the group perfectly rather than trying on several different outfits in the mirror. Blue in the Dark was smaller in scope, but its successes came from being musically sure-footed and lyrically purposeful. Hello, It's You goes for something newer and bigger, yet it falls into familiar traps. (Pure Noise)