I recently caught a Facebook update from my high school’s former theater queen, hoping that within the next few years, she will have deceived the social media populace into thinking she attended Wesleyan University. Widely accepted as the holy mecca for the liberal arts and penchants of right-minded swaggering, Wesleyan is home to a vast array of intellectuals who, at an early age, understand their the breadths of their creativity. Following in the footsteps of the danceable synth-pop of bands like MGMT and Amazing Baby, Bear Hands is one of the latest groups to emerge from Connecticut’s academic utopia.
Unsurprisingly, the band has found a home within the confines of Brooklyn, a standard move for most mid-Atlantic creatives. Bear Hands pulls from sources ranging from the retro-rhythms of 80’s synth-pop to the new waves of ultra-texturized millennial future sounds to carve a distinguished place in a saturated-NYC music scene. Their latest album, Distraction, was released on February 18th of this year, on Cantora Records.
The album twists and turns through colorful rhythms and distinctive harmonies, swerving through decades of throwback soul and new-wave distortions. The four-piece band demonstrates a necessary confidence in the record’s composition, showcasing an assuredness in their ability to craft music simultaneously complex and accessible. Songs like “Agora” convey an intense understanding of today’s crippling mid-twenties identity crisis, one that involves straddling the border between multiple introverted and extroverted tendencies, between stable odes of trustworthiness and the inconsistency of fleeting feelings; it’s all a part of what we learn, living on our own.
Distractions is a charming collection of consciously-crafted tracks; tight and meticulous instrumentals underscore lyrics that fret with anxiety and obsessive uncertainty. Bear Hands slides just beyond the label of derivative by infusing their music with large doses of personal character, unafraid to dip into the influences of grungy punk or aesthetically pleasing pop structures. Ultimately, this is the quality that makes a band successful; it is the ability to translate the liberty of a generation’s existential wavering into a distinct, sometimes ironically upbeat, but always masterful sound.
The band is opening for Miniature Tigers monday night at the High Watt, along with Total Slacker.