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(self-released; US: 30 May 2006; UK: Unavailable)

Cleveland may rock, but the musical Clevelanders known as Bears prefer to revel in pure pop goodness on their self-titled debut. The group’s blend of indie songcraft and a 1960s production aesthetic will likely draw comparisons with artists ranging from Belle and Sebastian to the Zombies, but Bears’s skillful arrangements, pleasant harmonies, and dreamy melodies deserve praise for their own merits. The album’s jangly guitars, understated keyboards, and sparkling xylophones on standout tracks like “How to Live” and “Still Alright” suggest the haze of an afternoon daydream. Because the music sounds so good, listeners could easily fail to notice that the songs become somewhat repetitive and the lyrics aren’t really great poetry. Despite their album’s few flaws, the members of Bears consistently demonstrate emotional and musical sensitivity throughout their debut, and the combination of these attributes sets them apart from the pack of indie pop groups.


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Bears -- Never Have To Guess (Live Video)
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