Heaven for Real's Wise, Open-Hearted 'Energy Bar' Is Packed with Nutrition

BY Leslie Ken ChuPublished Sep 12, 2022

Heaven For Real pierce through facades and lance false impressions on their sophomore album, Energy Bar. Peeling back the layers until they feel raw and alive, the Toronto-via-Halifax quartet hope to see the best in everything and everyone, but they're willing to accept their flaws, too.

Energy Bar is vivacious and playful. Co-founding twins Mark and J. Scott Grundy's needly guitars move in rapid cross-stitch patterns while Cher Hann's affable synths wrap around Nathan Doucet's wiry drums like a cozy hug. The foursome play with a breezy ease born of mutual comfort; their intimate alchemy, fermented over a dozen years as a band (with Hann joining in 2015), sparks an intuitive electricity.

Energy Bar honours the tiny, quiet joys and truths nestled in the quotidian. They're both the revelations that require examining objects, people, the self, and situations from all angles and the ones that reveal themselves when least expected, when a person finds themselves riding high or bottomed out. "Sure enough, I will notice it's the role I've taken / That will further the thrill of it," Mark sings on "Further the Thrill." He arrives at an important conclusion on this dreamy, contemplative song: that love can come in small gestures. (The fluttering "Slow Clap" echoes this realization: "I'll learn how love comes in different sizes / The kind you know hiding ones that you don't.") With that in mind, Mark vows to go wherever he's needed; simply showing up for others, after all, is just one act of kindness that makes up the verdant lexicon of love languages. 

Throughout Energy Bar, Mark makes a case for slowing down and inspecting every nook, cranny, and crevice of a moment to savour it as wholly as possible. "After all, it's the journey that kills you," he points out on "Years in My Mirage." "Underwater Song" is an advisory to trust one's gut, to follow feelings over formalities: "Rusty and slow / We'll forget about the notes and try to sing sweet," Mark sings, further extolling living in the present tense.

With any process of self-reflection or peeling of layers, there's a degree of discomfort — the path to revelation often passes through the rings of Hell. "Noon Riser" makes abstracted reference to an all-nighter. The central character is caked in ensuing shame so thick, even strangers notice their pain. But recognizing the potential for absolution, Mark allows, "We are more than all that we confess."

Along with breathing in all the small, but not insignificant, everyday miracles life has to offer, Mark looks past imperfections on "Slow Clap." He refuses to sweat the small stuff in matters of love. Accepting that "nothing smooths out neatly," he manages to "forget what invokes unsightly emotion." On "Do Your Worst," this means looking in the mirror and confronting himself with brutal honesty.

Heaven For Real have learned acceptance. They look at the world with open hearts and open minds. Like a snack from the health food aisle, Energy Bar is packed with nutrition, nuggets of wisdom for the soul. Self-actualization is an endless trial of attempting — and failing — to hit constantly shifting personal growth targets. With Energy Bar, Heaven For Real plant their feet, take aim, and land their shot.
(Mint Records)

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