Wicked Bears Release an Absolutely Perfect Pop-Punk Album with Underwater
5.0 out of 5 stars
Alright, I am NOT going to apologize for this 5 star rating, because anyone who knows anything about Wicked Bears will know that this album is fantastic. Lyrically, it is one of the best punk albums of all time (their last album as well).
Underwater by the SLC trio, Wicked Bears is among one of the most cleverly crafted albums in the pop-punk genre. So much so that the first and last song on the album sort of bookend the entire album like some sort of prologue/epilogue with a message that is saying hello/goodbye to a live audience as well.
The first single that came out of this collection of songs was “The Darkness” which is the second song on the album, and the guitar riff at the beginning combined with the belting vocals by frontman/bassist Casey Keele, “All my favorite songs, were saying something different all along…” is just a great way to kick off the album.
The song finds a way to both talk about some form of depression and humorously breaks the fourth wall of the song itself during the chorus with the lines, “Without further ado I present to you a cool part of this song, where we insert a catchy phrase to dispel the darkness.”
Every song on this album is in its own way great, and the best part is the songs are not the same tempo, built on the same formula which I have talked about being an issue with a lot of punk albums lately.
The other GREAT part of this album is it plays like an ALBUM should. The tracklist and order is great, and if you have the vinyl and know what a good “side ender” sounds like, well, you get that here from the song, “Lies” with another great “side starter” in “Max” on the B side.
Also, just for those who are fans of Easter Eggs, the Vinyl has some pretty interesting secondary names for the songs such as “Terms and Conditions - OR - Cameron’s Last Stand - OR - All My Best Friends Are Mariachis.”
My personal favorite song on the album (likely just because I have played it the most) is “Lucky.” It’s an absolute banger. It starts out like an anthem rock song, then moves into a bit of a ska song and seamlessly back into an in-your-face chorus. The dual vocals between Keele and guitarist Nick Fleming are showcased so damn well in this song too.
I still think the opening line, “Why do you party? ‘Cause I like to dance. When do you party? When I get the chance, a little louder for the people in the back,” will always get me to yell it out when I hear it. Also, the whole part about the Chinese finger trap in the song cracks me up.
The song is specifically talking about those stupid ass claw machines that give crappy gifts while you spend way too much money losing on it anyway, but is more about how being unlucky is a way of life in some sense.
I am most impressed by the amount of actual lyrics in every song. I am blown away how they all easily become melodies, and I can’t imagine how Keele remembers the words while playing the songs live.
“Hypothetically” which was the third single off this album is an example of the dry humor of the band. The song is NOT a love song, but talks about how IF IT WAS one, it might sound something like this one. A really, really clever idea.
And the best part of the song is that it doesn’t stop rocking out. It is quite literally one of those “perfect songs” that come along once every 5-10 years.
If you want to hear a socially satirical commentary, make sure to check out “Eighteen Wheeler” which is a song about how getting rear-ended by a semi-truck becomes a blessing from insurance money, but how crazy it is that if the insurance just decided not to pay out that money, it would be a bankruptcy-inducing event that would be on top of the mental and physical anguish…but it’s somehow made better from the money dulled out. So, now you just have to weight out the karma that comes with getting money for something you didn’t control like some sort of fucked up lottery.
Yeah, this country is a fickle, money-addicted society where values are misplaced which makes it hard to know how to live your life.
And as I mentioned the last song on the album, "Still Underwater," is a really cool Epilogue where, like a 5-act musical, throws some of the lyrics and vocals from the songs on the album into a bit of a medley while signing off.
So, by now I hope you are starting to understand that this album is great, and I think instead of reading too much more from my perspective, you go out and check this album out.
Wicked Bears is Casey Keele (bass, vocals), Nick Fleming (guitar, backing vocals), and Jason Bohman (drums).