Death can be highly generative. In 2002, influential Seattle hardcore band Botch went their separate ways and several new bands were born from their ashes. Minus The Bear are not only the furthest away musically from what Botch were doing but also the most successful. Their sound is poppy and melodic. Aside from the fact that you can hear the ‘math’ influence in their music you’d never know that anyone in this band had anything to do with a group as heavy as Botch.
Minus The Bear’s creativity has seen them pushing their sound forward with every release, making the completely natural progressions that have led them to their most recent offering Infinity Overhead. They’ve come a long way since the jerky lo-fi indie rock of 2002’s Highly Refined Pirates. Here we have a more mature, well thought out guitar pop record with clean production.
The album kicks off on a more aggressive tone with opener Steel And Blood. Not as instantly catchy as other songs but with trade mark clever timings, melodic synth lines and soaring vocals, you instantly recognize that Minus The Bear are back. And on form too. Second track Lies and eyes (a personal favorite) is an upbeat angular pop treasure. Singer Jake Snider has improved ten fold and his performance here is as good as any you’re likely to find in this genre.
Although the softer tracks, such as Diamond Lightning and Heaven Is A Ghost Town, have a more generic feel to them, they do hold their own as great songs and add to the journey that Infinity Overhead takes you on. Not disrupting its epic flow but contributing to the movement, the highs and lows you experience throughout. The first four tracks are pretty much seamless. You’ve barely had time to acknowledge one song ending before it moves cleverly into the next. The way it flows is almost movie-like. We’re not just given a collection of songs whacked together and shot out to the masses via download sites. Minus The Bear are clearly a band who see’s ‘the album’ as a work of art, which in this age of digital music, is a rare occurrence. You’ve got to respect them for that.
The real crowning glory, as always, is guitarist Dave Knudson’s borderline genius guitar work. His constant experimentation with effects, strange sounds and techniques is what drives the band to new levels of greatness. This is most prevalent on tracks like Toska, with its Cure esq percussive riffs and the cool, synth-like wah effect all the way through Lonely Gun. A song in which the band let their electronic influences shine through. The Guitar in the mid section is strangely reminiscent of something Daft Punk would come up with.
Infinity overhead is diverse, brave, different and clever – a departure from 2010’s more electronic Omni, you’ll want to play it again, for sure. Minus The Bear have always had an unrivaled ability to blend top of the game musicianship and intricate riffs with simple catchy pop songs and make it work on a commercial level. Infinity Overhead is no exception to the rule. Released 3rd Sept through Big Scary Monsters. Pre order the album via iTunes or at Amazon.
Listen to the track Lonely Gun here.
Minus The Bear – Infinity Overhead Album Trailer