ARTIST: Well Being
RELEASE: Well Being
RELEASE DATE: 25th November 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Bright but dark, heavy but soft and alternative but approachable, the debut album of Toronto’s ‘Well Being’ turns the face of post-punk to look into an indie mirror to create some sort of wild and heavy piece of psych-rock. Each song shimmers in its own right, but the albums background is where the real reward lies; beautiful textured pieces of instrumentation and subtle but neat FX push the sound forward for the listener in a way that highlights everything smart about conventional (mostly) guitar lead music. However, the album scores clever points with the clean and crisp production, sounding at equals (or perhaps even better) than ‘pro’ bands. This point locks in with the aforementioned comment about Well Being’s power of musical textures. ‘Well Being’ is by no means a leap forward in the world of music; there is little genre or avant-garde experimentation, there’s no wildly obtuse production techniques, it’s just well-written and very well produced music by a band who clearly know what they are doing.
Well Being opens with ‘Fear, Love and Everything in Between’ and it showcases the albums clean and crisp production; the vocals hover easily over a slow and steady drum beat that floats away on a post-punk guitar line before rolling straight into the emotive psych-pop the band revisits and revisits over the course of the release. The outro morphs the song again, with the beautiful and intelligent guitar picking away in the background adding weight to the already heavy sound. ‘The Kuleshov Effect’ follows with a more conventional/indie sound and an utterly brilliant sounding chorus. As far as instrumentation goes, the sounds and textures presented on the song are definitely a highlight. This is followed by the rock-influenced ‘Hands Tied’, with its post-punk sounding guitar and passages of song built around a more psych-rock aesthetic. ‘Waterboarding’ may be the albums best track. Its claustrophobic, indie tongue in cheek guitar mix with the clean and precise vocals, proclaiming lyrics that sound like somebody trying to coax another into using heavy drugs… Or maybe getting water boarded. That was a joke. ‘Habitual’ follows this blueprint to a slower tempo. The drums tap along slowly while the guitars play a psych influenced post-punk riff; the vocals hover over in a squeaky clean fashion and the whole song ties itself together with the bands previously explored sound. ‘Jean Seberg’ is the point on the album when you turn around and say ‘hey, wait… Haven’t I heard this before?’ The point where the bands ultra clean sound begins to wear thin. And just to clarify, ‘Jean Seberg’ is a good and well written song… It’s just that it seems to be re-using an already re-used formula.
Thankfully, the engaging and energetic ‘I Walk Through Clouds’ follows on and adds another element to the band’s sound. ‘I Walk Through Clouds’ sees Well Being step into an alternative rock space that features an almost pop punk sound throughout the entire song. The outro screams ‘I don’t need you anymore, I don’t need you anymore’ make sure that the listener feels as if they are listening to a rock and guitar driven song. ‘Don’t Complicate It’ could have, or should have, been a B-side, or C-side for that matter. Enough said. ‘Girls of Kilimanjaro’ is a brilliant, deep track that almost saves the band in a way. It’s instrumental and dazzling lead in carves the way for an indie rock guitar based song that bounces around in the listeners face. The bands instruments sound dirtier, or perhaps less focused on sounding clean, giving a neat breeze of authenticity to the song and its placement within the context of the album.
While perhaps the band and those associated with the album would love to have it slated as a piece of post-punk or indie music, the honest and obvious truth is that this lands closer to a conventional rock album more than any of those genres. Even the moniker of ‘psych-pop’ doesn’t seem appropriate… Some of the album even sounds like crisp and clean ‘modern’ pop punk. And this in itself is enough for some listeners to walk away in a haze of disinterest and cringe. But the truth is that it’s a very well written album. The majority of songs show a maturity and sort of simple complexity in them, and the musical textures prove to be a rewarding experience in themselves. Sure, the production is very clean… But it’s done so as to avoid sounding artificial and that fact in itself should be applauded. Some won’t like it, some won’t even look at it; but I proclaim to listen closely and enjoy the bands neat song writing skills, showed through production, playing and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.