wojtek the bear, gained their unusual moniker after their lead singer, Tam Killean, fell down a Wikipedia shaped rabbit hole one evening. He became momentarily obsessed with the story of Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear, who rather surreally was enlisted into the Polish army, eventually reaching the rank of corporal before finally taking up residence at Edinburgh Zoo.
After a well-received eponymous maiden EP, the Glaswegian band began work on their debut release, a talent for being unreasonable in late 2017. Produced by Chris McCrory (lead singer of Catholic Action and a dead ringer for Bobby Gillespie) it is certainly a sonically impressive debut long-player.
The guys in the band have cited Teenage Fanclub as a shared influence and I can certainly sense a bit of a Gerry Love vibe on the second track, the navies of landlocked nation, with its insistent melodies and lush harmonies. This is followed by postcode, a subtly and timely little tune about the modern trend of moving to the right catchment area to ensure the kids get into the right school. It may not sound the most thrilling subject for a song, but it’s got an amazing string part and it’s actually pretty damn good.
My favourite track by a country mile though is waves. it’s got a great bassline, lazy atmospheric lead guitar, and a compelling vocal performance. It’s also got a really strong lyric, particularly the line “we can always make more money, but we can never make more time”. kindness doesn’t cost features some pretty stellar guitar work and another great lyric. However, at times the percussion is pretty wayward, and it detracts from what is otherwise an excellent track.
So far so good, so how come only 70%? You know when you watch First Dates and the couple decide at the end whether they are going to see each other again? Often one of them says that they just didn’t feel that spark. Well it’s sometimes kind of like that with bands. Subjectively I know that there’s not a lot wrong with a talent for being unreasonable. It has some great performances, nifty song writing, tasteful arrangements and great production. Apart from a handful of tracks though it just fails to really excite and at my age I need a little bit more than that! We’ll definitely still see each other again as friends though.