The delightfully named Angry Bears from New England really bought into that whole pop-punk thing. As it stands, Stay Gold is six tracks of no-frills bouncy pop-punk mischief, if at times very tame mischief. Opening track Pieces begins with a great riff – not too overbearing but melodic and more impressive than the average pop-punk opening gambit. The band have two vocalists and in Pieces, this works great. They skip through all the currently hip genres in this one – pop-mosh, skate-punk, and even a little bit of hardcore – before settling back down into some Blink 182 influenced basslines. Title track, Stay Gold is also a surprising change of pace with an insanely heavy breakdown that comes out of nowhere and some pretty posi lyrics.
But unfortunately, the EP starts to go stale from there. The two vocalists can easily be likened to Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus in their style of singing, and the one who sounds like Tom Delonge has the stronger songs. The Mark Hoppus-alike tends to drone and the songs weaken as a result. This is exactly what happens to New Days and Homecoming. Despite having some decent hooks in the chorus and some extremely catchy instrumental bits in both songs, they start to all blend into one with the droning verses. Even with the other vocalist, Straight Jacket starts to get a bit boring. Although Angry Bears are fairly strong performers, there’s little to no experimentation – it’s almost as if it was all done with in the first track and the later ones revert back to a comfortable formula. Taking each song on their own, that formula works, but as a complete release, it’s important to have more variety. And honestly, the one thing that’d fix it? Changing the guitar tone. A bit of pedal action wouldn’t go amiss.
The band do manage to bring it all back around with closing track Montauk though. It opens with some great drumwork and there begins to be some more experimentation. Deviating from the traditional pop-punk formula, the song features another brilliant breakdown with some superb gang vocals layered over the top. The song is a promise to keep going, no matter what, and it’s a sentiment that weaves its way through the EP. And if they can play to their strengths, then we’ll be happy to have them around, but regardless of all that, I guess Angry Bears are here to stay, for better or for worse.
3 out of 5 high fives!