Learning to “See in Blue” with Bears In Trees
Written by Meg Clemmensen
Graphic by Rebekah Witt
Following along the band’s standard path of ukulele-driven songs that get gradually angrier and more upbeat as the track moves along, I See Blue is another successful EP from internet band Bears In Trees. The UK-based group have been together since 2014, but this might just be their biggest release to date. The five-track EP takes listeners through the band members’ personal journeys through a full university experience, from freshman year to graduation day. Completed as a message of self-discovery, I See Blue is a raw and honest work that any indie kid just trying to grow up and get by can relate to.
Opening with “Nights Like These,” which was also the first single released from the EP, the theme is introduced with a soft ukulele undertow. This track takes a positive approach on university life with a tale about partying and making the most out of your nights. It’s the perfect introduction to what is still to come. It displays an optimistic outlook that has potential to turn negative, all while leaving listeners feeling nostalgic and thinking about nights they’ve had that sound like the one described. With the magical final touch that is a Kesha reference, “Nights Like These” speaks of all the unexplainable thrills you’ll partake in while you’re young and on a night out with your friends.
Next comes “Life’s A Beach.” This song feels like the polar opposite of the first track, taking the approach of the aftermath of the night out getting drunk. Despite the positive-sounding title, this track is anything but that. It also contrasts the EP title with the repeated lyric ‘I see in grey,’ suggesting that this particular track is a low point that will eventually get better. Basically, if you’ve ever looked for a song to wallow in your own self pity to, “Life’s A Beach” is the one. The narrator questions his own actions and speaks with such a hatred for his choices that it makes the listener want to never experience a hangover again.
The next track, “Don’t Drink Coffee,” is the shortest on the EP with a running time of just over 1:30. The main message behind this song is simply that it’s a bad idea to drink coffee before bed. Barely any lyrics are involved, but it is a very lighthearted interlude-style tune that’s once again played on the ukulele. With a vibe that puts you in a good mood, “Don’t Drink Coffee” steps out of the darkness that covers “Life’s A Beach” and transitions into the next song on the EP.
“Starting Fires” is the fourth track on the EP, and rather than the familiar ukulele support, this song kicks in with the tapping of piano notes. I personally found this to be the strongest and most unique track. It’s a lot different from what I’ve heard from Bears In Trees in the past. It begins as a soft melody that discusses losing and finding yourself, which gradually picks up with unexpected breakdowns. The most exhilarating part of the song, though, is when it picks up to full-band instrumentals and the narrator begins talking about a woman he’d like to be his wife and how they can ‘pretend they can cope with real life’ together. Just as he is discussing the life he’d like to have with her, the song drifts back into a slow piano tune before ending.
The grand finale is titled “I Am Cold,” and it is the second single that was released prior to the full EP. With this track, the whole 5 songs are wrapped up with a sense of reflection upon all the good and bad times that have been experienced. Toying with the same upbeat feeling we found in the middle of “Starting Fires,” this song speaks about getting better and getting worse, essentially just trying to find some sort of place in between. The lyrics ‘I am cold’ are repeated several times over before heading into a killer guitar breakdown to finish off the track, and in turn, the EP.
Overall, I See Blue is a well-written summary of some of the hardest years of anyone’s life told in five parts. Rather than shying away from the embarrassment and mistakes that some may try to forget, Bears In Trees speak openly about all of their university experiences, from the highs to the lows that come after. I would definitely recommend this EP to anyone looking to find a new indie band on the verge of blowing up, and I’ll leave all of you to hear the tracks for yourselves and uncover all the metaphors hidden within the song titles and lyrics. I See Blue is available wherever you prefer to stream music.