by Faith Bennet
You Will Live Forever is the third release from Jacksonville indie pop favorites Sunbears. For those who haven’t become acquainted with the band since their formation in 2008, Sunbears is the musical collaboration of guitarist Jonathan Berlin and drummer Jared Bowser. EU Jacksonville was able to speak with Berlin on the subject of the music itself and the concept of giving love a try.
“‘Give Love a Try’ is the first single off the album and rightly so. Following the haunting and wordless opener, ‘You Will Live Forever,’ ‘Give Love a Try’ denies all ambiguity in its expression of optimism.” Berlin did admit to penning the songs on the album while listening to a lot of Cat Stevens and John Lennon and the influences certainly shine through. He elaborated, saying that he wanted this release to sound more “stripped down…without all the bells and whistles.” Though You Will Live Forever may feature literal whistles, his goal was still met. The album revels in its simplicity.
The bare sound keeps the equally simplistic message center stage. This message is put best on another standout track, ‘Together Forever,’ where Berlin sings, “I’m no better than you, you’re no better than me.” Berlin said the artistic and lyrical purpose of the album stemmed from a mental state of confusion and contentedness followed by the realization that “The more I read, the less I know.” The artistic message itself was “Be good people. Treat each other well.” Just as Lennon and company pioneered a similar sound and message while the world was in turmoil, Sunbears promote peace and love in modern wartime.
Though there are a few songs on the CD for bummer days, like the melancholy ‘Strung Out! On My Own!’ the overall tone of the album is imbued with a brighter outlook on life and love. Songs like ‘It’s Hard! Be Content Where You Are!’ showcase Sunbears’ knack for swirling melodies as well as their affinity for exclamation points. ‘We’re Alive’ is another memorable song that could easily find its place in a romantic comedy, as the lead character experiences a moment of redemption. “We can dance until we die, we can love until we die,” is evidently how songwriter Jonathan Berlin and “Sultan Of Cool,” Jared Bowser, look at life, and it appears to work for them. The song calls to audiences to “get on out your bed,” or, more literally, quit wallowing in self pity “‘Cause we’re alive.”
Closing track ‘Live! Don’t Stop Trying!’ summarizes the rest of the music best. If there is anything Sunbears are good at it’s making the glass-half-full outlook on life seem cool again, a trend that will hopefully catch on.
You Will Live Forever will be released on November 22, and the album release show is at Jackrabbits on November 26.