After making a splash with their 2006 self-titled debut, Charlie McArthur & Craig Ramsey kept writing, putting out Shortest Day of the Year EP last year, and now Simple Machinery. The Ohio natives took a bit of a darker turn on the wintery Shortest Day, but Machinery was built for the summer.
Much of Simple Machinery draws on the bright, sweet sounds of sixties pop, like the choral “Please Don’t” and flowing “Another Tiger Romance” that lead the record off. The melodic sounds of such tracks as “Wait and See” and “So Go” do play a bit simple, but still charm. However, sometimes the harmony does go a bit overboard, like with “Since I Met You” and “Never Again”, and the penultimate “Everything I Need” is just an uninteresting organ-choral track. But then there’s twinkle-nice “Letting It Go”, and the catchy little ditty & strum, “Subtle Way”, to bring back the sunshine.
Simple isn’t all sweetness and light, and, in many ways, Bears are better when they add a little sadness into the mix. Early flowing strum “Dolphins” benefits from a pinch of wistfulness, while the touch of grey to the sixties-pop procession “What Makes Me Happy” gives it some needed depth. And at the end, sandwiched around Simple’s weakest track, are the record’s two best: “Your Help” and “Our Time”. “Help” is wise in its wisdom, while “Time” is some pressing alt-country indie-pop.
In fact, “Our Time” is so good, once can’t help but wish there was more of it on Simple Machinery. But that’s another record, more of an autumnal breeze than Simple’s summer sun. Bears may be godless killing machines and the greatest threat facing America (according to Stephen Colbert), but they’re still winning hearts and minds.
MP3 Stream: "Our Time"