Eliza and the Bear didn’t plan to be a band. Not a real band, at any rate. The Essex quintet had no intention of releasing records, never mind making an album. Hence, the band began as a hobby, a weekly meet-up of mates loved making music, but only for fun. Which is important to know - because it’s key to understanding their sound. It’s why their songs are so joyous and their lyrics life-affirming. It’s why their trumpets are triumphant and their strings soar. It’s why their all-inclusive choruses demand to be sung back, why festival audiences adore them and why their singles have been synced everywhere from Sky Movies, a Masterchef final and the BBC’s Olympics coverage to a cider advert. It’s why, whether you know it or not, you’ve heard their music.
Since 2012 their lives since have been a flurry of writing, recording, playing to ever increasing live audiences and releasing EPs, including ‘Light It Up’ and the recent ‘Make It On My Own’. The latter’s euphoric lead single, on ode to self-determination, was written just days before Eliza and the Bear decamped to Nashville for seven weeks to work with three times Grammy Award-winning producer Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Of Monsters and Men, James Bay) on their eponymously-titled, debut album, which was released April 2016 via Capitol.
Included, of course, are fan favourites that have long been part of the band’s live set, among them ‘Brother’s Boat’, album opener ‘Friends’ and ‘Upon The North’, a song inspired by a spooky drive. There are also a couple that may surprise the band’s longtime fans – the beautifully broody, strings accompanied ‘I’m On Your Side’ and the stripped-back, piano-driven ‘My Body Was Against Me’. ‘Cruel’ and ‘I’m On Your Side’ feature a gospel choir, while sumptuous strings have been added to several of the older songs.
“We’re making music that makes us happy” explains singer James Kellegher .“We write songs that we enjoy singing and playing. It’s the sort of pop music we like listening to.”