Hearing ‘New Friends’ for the first time I thought I’d played a track from the wrong band. Bubblegum vocals and a cliched piano part were not what I expected from Eliza and the Bear, and came as a bit of a disappointment from a band I’d once thought individual and upbeat.
I always respect a band for changing up their sound. It’s a brave move and takes a lot of skill to entirely rethink a style, plus, a band that stays rigidly with their original sound always end up sounding a bit stale. But in Eliza and the Bear’s case, it feels more like a sell-out than a re-style. With radio-written lyrics and luke warm melodies, this song could just as easily be any other factory-made stereotypical pop song. It’s a real shame, especially after the fun, upbeat dance anthems ‘hell’ and ‘higher’, their gorgeously mild acoustic tracks and full bodied, feel-good songs like ‘friends’ and ‘let us be young’.
If ‘new friends’ is the first you’ve heard of Eliza and the Bear, don’t let it cloud your judgement – every band is allowed a few duff songs, and this (in my opinion) is theirs. In all fairness, ‘new friends’ does have it’s silver linings, and just as you should never judge a book by its cover, I won’t be one to judge a song by its opening either, however, mass produced and sickly it may sound to start with.
43 seconds into the track, a rhythmic bass line kicks in along with sparky drumbeats, giving the song a more upbeat, Fickle Friends esque vibe. Flicks of electric guitar throughout the chorus are reminiscent of DNCE’s ‘cake by the ocean’ (whatever your opinions are of that 2015 throwback song, you have to admit it is pretty fun.) It seems Eliza and the Bear are heading towards a more dance-pop sound, and judging from the comments on their most recent Instagram posts, their fans are loving it – so who can blame them?
It’s significant that the title of the band’s latest track is a nod to one of their older and most famous tracks ‘friends’ – maybe marking a new chapter for Eliza and the Bear and a move into a different genre? Or maybe it’s just a sell-out song? Either way, some fans seem to love it, so they must be doing something right, even if it’s not my cup of tea.