Why you should listen to “dirtbag boyband” Bears In Trees

Aurora Rose Horn, Staff Writer

Of the many music artists I listen to, my personal favorite is one you probably haven’t heard of: an indie/emo/folk rock band based in Croydon, South London called Bears In Trees. The band comprises vocalist and bassist Iain Gillespie (they/them); vocalist, ukulele player and keyboard player Callum Litchfield (he/him); drummer and producer George Berry (he/him) and guitarist Nick Peters (he/him). The four of them have been making music together since they were in high school and refer to themselves as a “dirtbag boyband” because they devote themselves to their music in the way climbers known as dirtbags devote themselves to climbing. 

They’ve released a few EPs in the past, but last month Bears In Trees put out their first full-length studio album, and everybody else smiled back. It didn’t take long for the album to become one of my all-time favorites; it’s the culmination of all their past music, with that unique Bears In Trees sound that drew me to their music in the first place. Their music has a rustic quality to it, like they’re not necessarily trying to be good but they’re just four friends having fun making music together, which to me adds to what I enjoy about it. If I were to summarize the overarching themes of the album in a sentence or two, I’d say that it’s about growing up, and how having good friends by your side is helpful during the more challenging parts of it.

The album featured three singles: “Great Heights,” “I’m Doing Push Ups” and “Little Cellist.” Of these, the one that strikes me the most is “Little Cellist,” a song written by Gillespie about a time one of their friends found them asleep on a floor and shared her anxieties with them when she noticed they weren’t in a good place mentally. This friend played the cello, hence the title of the song. The chorus- “Little cellist, don’t break that wooden neck/ it’s not selfish to not do all they expect/ and my good friend, it’s okay to be upset/ so loosen that tight grip around that wooden neck” -never fails to get me in tears. 

One of my favorite songs on the album is the eighth track, “Confidant,” which as you can glean from the title is about having a close friend who is your “warm calming companion, like the sweetest cup of chai” on “those most chaotic nights”. The sentimental lyrics combined with the peaceful sound makes the song perfect for dramatically swaying, and I can’t help but marvel at the poetry of the line “you laugh at all my jokes, not because you’d understand/ but because you were my home, built on stone instead of sand.” The idea of a friend as a home with a stone foundation, as something stable and constant, is one that I love and I wish I thought of.

In my humble opinion, it’s criminal how few people know Bears In Trees. The themes of their songs range from eating concrete (“Fresh Concrete”) to having an asthma attack at 4 a.m. (“4 A.M.”) to realizing that one day all your friends are going to die (“Ramblings of a Lunatic”), so it’s safe to say that they have something for everyone. I highly suggest you check them out at this link, and please think of me as you listen to their music.