It is difficult to give the music of Toronto-based band Well Being one designation. They’re described as indie-rock, post-punk, psychedelic pop … and the hyphen variations continue. Because of the way the band inhabits the in-between, their name can take on multiple meanings. Well Being could — as the dictionary states — mean health, happiness, and prosperity. For example, the sage repetition of the lyrics “Hold on, be strong” in “Hands Tied” or the whole title of “Don’t Complicate It” as advice for well-being. But for the darker, grinding moments of the album, it is just as easy to read the name as “Well, Being”, sighed in a punkish offhand way. Well Being’s eponymous debut hops around in tone, but retains a honed high-energy foundation.
The album develops like nightfall. The opening track “Fear Love and Everything in Between” has all the potential energy of a sunset, while album closer “Girls of Kilimanjaro” is a dance-to-stay-warm middle of the night exaltation. The three-piece rockers are adept at creating mountains of sound, such as on “I Walk Through Clouds”, and move between clear production and warehouse-rock ambiance. Occasionally bordering on the energy you might look for on a punk album (see: “Waterboarding”), then meandering to a catchy vocal riff that could be found on a pop record (“Jean Seberg”), the band are at their best when they are between.
When the trio lacks divergence, the music borders on familiar. “Habitual” is catchy, though it doesn’t hold up to the more fresh tracks on the record, such as “Fear Love and Everything In Between” or “Hands Tied”, both album highlights. On Well Being, the energy is always there, and it is this energy that keeps the album refreshing. The production meanders on a spectrum, between spacious fuzziness and crisp, clean riffs. Were it not for the unifying energy, the songs that inhabit one end of the spectrum could feel out of place.
Well Being make music that is itching to be heard live, but until they tour, playing this album at full volume throughout the evening will just have to do.
Top Tracks: “Fear Love and Everything In Between”, “Hands Tied”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)