Friday, 1 May 2015

Album Review - The Wellgreen - Grin and Bear It

If you don’t already know of The Wellgreen, it’s about time.  2014 saw original members Marco Rea and Stu Kidd team up with the talents of guitarist/singer Daniel McGeever and bassist Jim McGoldrick when, at last summer’s Indietracks, in the hot, stuffy and packed tin church, the Glaswegian rising stars showed the indie world they are the real deal.  The four-piece’s status as a quality live band was also confirmed by a standing ovation at the packed Cavern Club in Liverpool last May and great things have been expected from them ever since.

Grin and Bear It is The Wellgreen’s second album and it contains all the elements which made the first album, Wellgreen, a personal favourite: groovy 60s psych-pop, the playful melodies of early 70s Macca, Todd Rundgren-esque relationship themes and even the bittersweet, introspective harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel.  When combined, all these influences add up to an album that is what you want to listen to when you want to listen to something good, but from now.

If any differences are to be found between the two albums, one could argue Grin and Bear It is overall bolder and more confident.  Like Wellgreen, it is both emotionally honest and good fun, but with added intensity and unapologetic internal drama – the track Impossible Love is one such example.  These days, a song with such utter beauty is rare. It begins flirty and sweet and then casually pulls off power-ballad intensity, making this just one more reason why The Wellgreen are something special: they clearly do what they want.

Because this is The Wellgreen, even intensity is dished out with delightful harmony.  In Counting All These Moments, longing and soul-searching delightfully intersect and the song is just further proof of The Wellgreen’s knack for easily slipping into your thoughts before you’ve even realised it.

However, it’s not all cerebral.  The first track, Grin and Bear It, is a heap load of rock n’ roll fun and creates the perfect balance between light and heavy which continues throughout the album.  You’ll certainly tap your toes.  You can’t not tap your toes.  It doesn’t end there; another treat is the poptastic track Summer Rain, which includes the guitar talents of Stevie Jackson (Belle and Sebastian).

As with the first album, every song on Grin and Bear It has a touch of the familiar.  But The Wellgreen are no mere retro copycats, they are indie’s (not-so) hidden gem with songs that are relatable, interesting, fun and, at times, absolute ear candy.

Whatever they do, whether it’s a gig or a live webstream, they exude fun and friendliness – in this sense, they fit in nicely with the 60s and 70s vibe they project in their music.  If you are an absolute sucker for simple melodies and two-part harmonies like me, buy the album and go see them live.  You won’t regret it.

- Janet Feenstra

The Wellgreen - Grin and Bear It is out now via the band's own label The Barne Society and is available on CD via Bandcamp and download via iTunes.


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