EP Review: Bear Trap – Sugarcoated

Review by Mark Bartlett.

Manchester’s Bear Trap have got some pretty great stuff going on within the three tracks of their debut EP Sugarcoated (courtesy of Horn & Hoof Records), but the fresh 4-piece still have plenty of scope to grow into the best version of the noughties revivalist pop-punk unit they’re trying to be.

They’ve a really decent grasp of song structure and what makes for a good, uplifting chord progression, as well as a strong sense for a catchy lyrical hook. The opening bars of Goodbye really do an excellent job of cementing the Drive-Thru era sound and reeling in the listener. Bear Trap have claimed a Blink/Green Day/Yellowcard influence, but personally, I can mostly hear The Starting Line (which is no bad thing!). Lyrics like ‘I’ll wave you goodbye as the last train leaves, just say it’s not forever’ are pretty authentically classic emo. Bear Trap also score major points for sticking to their real accents and not falsely Americanising their sound; it really helps them carve out their own identity in a very crowded genre.

Bear Trap Sugarcoated 2.jpg

Lena, You’re A Miracle is the weakest of the three tracks here; it feels a little unfocused and unpolished especially in the verses, but the hook ‘I based my life on a movie script’ is really catchy.

The short EP ends strongly with Hopeless, which boasts the catchiest guitar hook, the strongest vocal performance and melody of the three tracks here. The thrilling outro riff ends Sugarcoated on a high and is easily the strongest musical moment here.

Bear Trap are a young band, and this is rough around the edges, with songs that could’ve used a little bit more time to fully develop the myriad of excellent ideas here, as well as a couple of more takes to get the best vocal performances they can. Lyrically, I’d like to hear a bigger diversity in subject matter, although I more than appreciate that songs about yearning for a significant other are a tried and true trope of the genre. However this is still good and entertaining, throwback pop-punk. There’s enough raw talent here to fill me with confidence that their second EP will deliver on the promise of Sugarcoated, and deliver tracks that are great rather than just good.

Check out Bear Trap live on the following dates:

Sugarcoated is out on Horn & Hoof now. You can buy physical copies through Bandcamp, or stream it on Spotify. Be sure to follow Bear Trap on Facebook too.

Review by Mark Bartlett.

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