Long gone are the days of Minus The Bear titling its songs, “Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked,” and with those quirky titles went the band’s signature brand of twinkling indie rock. It’s not surprising that the Seattle-based quintet is trying new things—it’s been ten years since it released its fan-favorite album, Highly Refined Pirates—but after trying, and failing miserably, at “progressing,” with 2010’s flop, OMNI, it might be better for the atmospheric indie rock pioneers to stick with what they’re good at.
Unfortunately, the band did not see it this way and diverged even farther from the sound that created its fan base with its fifth full-length album, Infinity Overhead. Like OMNI, this record seems a bit trite. The guitar work wails like it came from a Muse album, especially on songs like “Steel And Blood,” and “Lies And Eyes,” and though that can work for arena rock groups, it doesn’t for Minus The Bear. It sounds like the band is trying too hard.
This coupled with vocalist Jake Snider’s cringe-inducing lyric writing, and you’ve got yourself a shit storm. Songs like “Toska,” are reminiscent of old Minus The Bear. Dave Knudson reverts back to his awe-inspiring guitar pedal magic, producing sparkling bleeps and bloops. It’s heavenly, if you only listen to the instrumentation. But alas, Snider begins to sing lines like, “Leave out the he said, she said, he said, she said / I’m calling your bluff,” and “I’m a fool in your pocket,” that make you eagerly await any sort of instrumental bridge. This happens again in “Heaven Is A Ghost Town.” Musically, the song is soft and full of electronic tinkering, but lyrics like “Did the lord stop paying the lease,” just ruin it.
Usually a song can still have the potential for greatness, even with mediocre lyrics, but the problem here is even the album’s highlights are not anything memorable. Minus The Bear has some serious soul searching to do before releasing another album. It’s always sad to see a band that was once so great hit its peak too soon, because the decline is usually gruesome. As a tremendous fan of the band’s earlier work, I know what the five-piece can achieve, but first it needs to seriously redirect itself.