Happy Sunday everyone! It’s another grey and gloomy day up here in Minneapolis. Honestly, it’s kind of cozy so I’m looking for something cozy to help really set the mood in my house. Will Grin & Bear’s ‘Be Gentle’ be that perfect soundtrack? Let’s take a listen and find out!

Grin & Bear wastes no time jumping into this album with “India”. This opening track kicks off with strong vocals before instrumentation kicks in and shoots this song off. For some reason, I thought this album was going to be super soft and sweet. Maybe that’s based on the cover reminding me of some of Frank Turner’s work but, regardless, I was in love. Sure, it’s not the soft I had in mind but it’s absolutely the sweet I was looking for. There’s something super comforting about this opening track and it had me oh so optimistic about what the rest of this twelve-song album would have in store for me.

“Cross Legged” instantly became a favorite of mine. There’s so much power in this track while still gracing my house with an undeniable sense of comfort. There’s something vaguely familiar about this track and there are definitely nods to all of those emo pop-punk bands I used to listen to back in the day but there’s also something a little bit more mature about this track that hit me right to the core. That maturity continues to grow with “Trip to the Bottom” which instantly gave me The Early November vibes. This is a super sweet and calming track that seemed to be just what I wanted for this morning. The vocals come with an undeniable sense of passion and emotion while the instrumentation keeps this track from taking a serious turn. There’s something almost playful about the guitar part throughout this track that I found absolutely infectious.

“Armor” continues with that more acoustic vibe that was laid out in “Trip to the Bottom”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an acoustic track but there’s just this vibe that comes with this song that feels acoustic-esque. I tried my best to pay attention to the words because I could just feel them speak to my soul but this song quickly shifts into a wall of sound that absolutely caught me off guard before fading back into something a bit more sensitive and then going back to pure power. The rollercoaster that is this track is brilliant and I was completely lost on this ride until “Not Bad” had taken over my speakers. “Not Bad” may be the shortest track on this album but it absolutely packs a punch of attitude and angst in a Grin & Bear type of way. There’s no aggression in this track but the words seem to be sung with a sharp tongue and I absolutely adored that edge. 

I honestly didn’t want that edge I felt in “Not Bad” to end but it did and gave way to the beautiful “First Reaction”. You really get to see the depth of the vocals in this track. They are smooth and clear while being so full of emotion and power. There’s something raw about them but that’s not in the tone, that’s purely in the words which creates an undeniable sense of passion. This track was another favorite of mine because of a surprising horn part and a cluster of gang vocals that seemed to come out of nowhere yet fit this track perfectly. 

“Sensitive” is, well, a sensitive track that hit me right in the feels. The angsty words contradict the softness of this track in a brilliant way. There’s something a bit more youthful about this track. Maybe that’s because some of the words refer to being a bus and my mind instantly went to a school bus but, regardless, I loved it. Much like the other tracks on this album, I was so lost in the beauty of this track that I was caught off guard by the sudden crescendo towards the end. This song seems to blow up at the end before fading out and giving way to “Somewhere (gotta be)” in the best way possible. 

“Be gentle with yourself”. Those are the lyrics in “Somewhere (gotta be) and they hit me so hard. In a world where self-care is so important and shoved down our throats, I feel like it’s so hard to practice that phrase. Something as simple as a song that repeats those words can help and this song does that and then some. Although another one of the shorter tracks on this album, this one hit me the hardest and, you guessed it, was another instant favorite of mine.

The album slows back down for “Step Back” and honestly, that rest was much needed after the blow to the feelings that “Somewhere (gotta be)” was. Much like some of the previous tracks, there’s something oddly familiar about the overall sound of this track but it’s also still very clearly that of Grin & Bear. The slower pace continues into “Buggies”. This track has an almost dreamlike vibe to it. Like a sweet lullaby, this song had me drifting away from my desk and my to-do list that was sitting next to my computer. 

I loved how “Read Your Book” had lyrics that related back to the words in “Somewhere (gotta be)”. I know I haven’t spent much time on the lyrics in this album but that’s just because the lyrics aren’t listed anywhere but I really have to stress how timely the words of this song (hell, of all of these songs) are. They all seem to revolve around hanging in there and just getting by while being a gentle person to yourself and those around you. That’s a powerful thing and something that we all just need to keep in mind as we start to re-enter this world after a year of being locked down.

This album wraps up with “Outro” and, at just twenty-three seconds long, seems to end this album abruptly but perfectly. Just like every other song, the lyrics are honest and a reminder to just be kind to others. Forgive those who have wronged you and apologize to those you have wronged. Sure, this album wasn’t quite what I was expecting but this album ended up being everything I needed to keep a smile on my face during this gloomy Sunday.

My Favorite Track(s): “Cross Legged”; “First Reaction”; “Somewhere (gotta be)”

For Fans Of: Being Reminded To Love Yourself; Raw Lyrics; Nostalgic Sounds

Daydream-ability: 8 out of 10

What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid on the back of the couch; Autumn slept upstairs

How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9 out of 10

My Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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