They may record under the bestial moniker of Bears, but with their hushed, melodically fused vocals, Craig Ramsey and Charlie McArthur recall the intimacy of bedroom recordings. The lightly nuanced pop is propelled by an acoustic guitar and accented with brushed drums, allowing the duo’s lovelorn (and too often sad-sack) lyrics to come to the fore. The duo’s self-titled disc suffers from what was once thought to be a musical impossibility: glockenspiel oversaturation. Those pinging, ringing bells, which can light up almost any song — from the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” to nearly every Springsteen cut through 1981 — float through the album’s first half, gently but permanently burrowing into your skull. Still, the Bears’ bells are not enough to disrupt the beautiful pop sounds that recall Elliott Smith’s varied Figure 8 with waltz tempos and deftly picked guitars.

Categories: Music