Wicked Bears – ‘Tuning Out’.

Wicked Bears – Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Salt Lake City isn’t somewhere I would normally associate with playful 90’s Punk music but I do believe Hidden Home Records exports Wicked Bears may have proved me wrong. The classically-toned Pop-Punk three-piece could easily be compared to the likes of Dead To Me, MxPx, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Lillingtons and many others in that epoch with those vocal harmonies travelling for days.

Intelligent lyrics greet you from the off rather than just the bratty, snotty Pop-Punk humour you see closer and closer California. ‘2049’ is playful and fast and very Face To Face musically while notes of the above and also vintage Mark Hoppus show their place in it all.

‘2049 could have been on a TBR release with its simplistic “Ramonescore” approach sitting there unashamedly. The eponymous title track is much of the same and this isn’t a criticism – ‘I’ll get it right on my neck! I’ll get, “negligent,” tattooed onto my neck. Then, I won’t have to explain all of the meaningless decisions that I make, and make, and make […]’.

But it doesn’t end there, the quotability of this band and their playful take on social awareness continues so does the explanation of the constant tuning out we all feel – ‘[…] catch phrases, laugh tracks, and product placement? No one’s looking to be enlightened, just for disposable income, for funding something more important.’

If you’re simply looking for a guitars-bass-drums album that’s fun and easy listening, then you have found it or maybe you prefer your Pop-Punk to have just that hint at maturity and be lighter on the cliche. In which case,Tuning Out might be for you.

‘Nickle Arcade’ is a throwback to youth in its beginning but has far more of a “grown-up” point to make over buzzsaw guitars and one of the most classic of a release itself a classic despite its age. ‘Reebok Classics’ is not a title for a Pop-Punk song I thought I would ever come across, it might be worth asking a British person who was a teenage 10-15 years ago about that non-UK readers!

Wicked Bear have added to the generally-speaking immature Pop-Punk scene as maturely as possible, the jokes are still there and the delivery is relatable but at the same time, the methodology and clearly skilled writing and mixing process is clear. This is a band who get it, choose to deliver it lightheartedly and do it really quite well.

If Mark Hoppus is a clear comparison, on each repeated listen of this album, Kody Templeman should also be up there. ’60 WPM’ nods to veteran’s work with TBR or The Lillingtons as Wicked Bears pull off another top-notch Pop-Punk song on an album I am finding it very hard to criticise.

So I won’t and I’ll leave it here.

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Matthew Speer

Matt has 2.1 BA in History and is most likely somewhere in his twenties. He enjoys a wide range of music, but has a strong penchant for Punk-Rock. Originally he hails from the Isle Of Wight off the South Coast of England, UK and spends most of his time around England's South-West.

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