I’ve written quite a bit about New Brunswick, NJ-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Leslie Bear, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock act Long Beard. With the release of her full-length debut, 2015’s Sleepwalker, Bear received attention nationally for crafting shimmering and thoughtful dream pop within an album that that thematically explored what constitutes home — particularly, how it can extend beyond the physical quality of its roof and four walls, to the comfort and familiarity of the people in that structure. And of course, how the structure and the people within it can influence one’s sense of self, stability and security.
Since the release of her Long Beard debut, Bear’s life has gone through a significant, transitional period: a career move led her to return to her hometown, long after most of her friends and peers moved away. And the resulting feelings of stasis, nostalgia and confusion have deeply influenced the material on her forthcoming Craig Hendrix-produced, Long Beard sophomore album Means to Me. Slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Double Double Whammy Records, the album reportedly will mark both a major bit of artistic growth and maturation in her overall sound, aesthetic and approach with the material nodding at jangle pop, dream pop and shoegaze paired with her ethereal vocals.
Now, as you may recall, I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles the shimmering 4AD-era jangle pop-like “Sweetheart,” and the slow-burning and spectral, Mazzy Star- like album title track, “Means to Me.” Interestingly, Means to Me’s latest single continues a run of shimmering jangle pop but unlike its predecessors, the song’s upbeat nature is a bit deceptive, as it hints at something much darker — and extremely familiar to many of us: an existential crisis and crippling self-doubt.
“‘Getting By’ is about having an existential crisis — moving through the mundane day to day, and struggling to find purpose and meaning in life while being made to feel incompetent,” Bear explains in press notes. “I started writing this song while I was desperately looking for a job and finished it after I had been working at a job that made me question what I really wanted to be doing. The lyrical content is fairly dark, but the melodies and arrangements are more hopeful and pillowy as if reassuring me or the listener that ‘everything will be ok’.”
Directed and edited by Tara Bayat, the recently released video for “Getting By” follows Bear as she wanders through the woods but throughout the video, there’s a sense of displacement, of Bear’s protagonist recognizing that at the moment she doesn’t fit in and is floating aimlessly by but there are hints of the video’s protagonist finding some inner purpose and coming to realize that things will (and do) get better.