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Minus the Bear – VOIDS

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Since 2002, Minus the Bear have released a string of fairly consistent, ambitious (if not always successful) albums that navigate the shared ground between math-rock, prog-rock and groove-based dance numbers. Each album tweaked its predecessor’s formula enough to keep the band interesting and listeners on their toes. Even Infinity Overhead, which dropped the band’s penchant for experimentation in favor of a more straightforward, pop-rock hybrid sound, ultimately contained more hits than misses (and a few career highlights). VOIDS is the first album to flip this formula on its head and double down on its misses. Largely built on filler, it leaves listeners somewhere between disappointment and relief that it took the band this long to hit their weak spot.

    Of course, it’s impossible to analyze VOIDS in a vacuum, but even if we did, the problem lies within the juxtaposition of quality of work here. We know what Minus the Bear are capable of, not only due to the strength of their back catalog, but because of the strength of some of the songs here. The band’s opening tracks are always on point, and “Last Kiss” is no different; a sonic cousin to “Steel and Blood,” the song opens with glitchy and distorted notes that energize the minor chords that follow. The chorus stands among the band’s best, with vocalist Jake Snider breaking through walls of guitar and rich-sounding synth singing, “Every look is a last kiss/Everyone is the enemy/I can’t believe it ends like this.”

    But the best songs here are never followed properly, and it’s hard to blame that on sequencing when there’s only four truly remarkable tracks to begin with. A song like “Give & Take” contains all the pieces that make a strong Minus the Bear song – unique pedal play and guitar riffs — but its chorus feels mismatched in size and tempo, as if it was pulled from an entirely different song, and there’s something about the general muddiness and place of the vocals within the mix that just doesn’t feel quite right.

    “Tame Beasts” suffers a similar fate. Sung by keyboardist Alex Rose (who puts on a more than passible impression of Snider’s uniquely smooth croon), the song is musically engaging and admittedly riff-y, but as cool as that pre-chorus sounds, the song still suffers from lyrical blunders and issues within the mix. These observations are nitpicky, but they’re made all the more obvious following “Silver,” the album’s centerpiece and the only song on VOIDS that justifies a length of five-plus minutes. “Silver” is the kind of Minus the Bear song that builds upon itself, showcasing all of the band’s best abilities and utilizing them to create something larger than life (not unlike Infinity Overhead’s “Diamond Lightning”).

    Unfortunately, even as the longest song on the album, the energy and wit behind “Silver” is sorely missed throughout the rest of the album (an energy only partially hinted at during closing track “Lighthouse”). “Call the Cops,” another sung by Rose, feels crowded and half-baked, every vocal doubled in a strange song that never quite lifts off. The unique start-and-stop chorus of lead single “Invisible” does its best to pick up the energy (and as a song, it works much better in the context of the album), but that momentum is bogged right back down by “What About the Boat?,” one of two aimless, five-minute slowburners that not only deny to reach for something greater, but feel content in doing so.

    These are the reasons that VOIDS, as a Minus the Bear album, simply doesn’t work. VOIDS lacks the inventiveness that once made the band relevant and settles for only trying new things when it feels absolutely necessary. The album features four-ish standouts that range from “redeemable” to “career highlights” as well as the worst song they’ve ever written (the artery-clogging lyrical cheese that is “Robotic Heart”) and five other songs that, quite frankly, could’ve held a disposable place on any Minus the Bear album. Fans of the band should take what they can from VOIDS and chew on it until the band returns with the next genre-bending record we all know they have in them, while those new to the group would be best spending that wait reveling in the highlights of albums passed.

    mikeyoperocia likes this.
  2. Zilla

    Trusted Supporter

    To me, they've been on a downhill slide since "Planet of Ice."
  3. SEANoftheDEAD


    "Fans of the band should take what they can from VOIDS and chew on it until the band returns with the next genre-bending record we all know they have in them, while those new to the group would be best spending that wait reveling in the highlights of albums passed."

    Well, this is a bummer considering that this was the album I hoped would be the genre bending record that we could add to a great discography. I feel like I'm always visiting the highlights, I want something new to add to the reel.
  4. bmir14


    This is a bummer... but every song released so far hasn't clicked for me, so i'm not surprised.

    Long live early MTB (and a few songs since then... looking at you Secret Country)
  5. Ska Senanake


    Surprised there was no mention of Erin leaving the band and leaving that void (pun intended). I'm still hopeful for this record as I like some of their slower more atmospheric stuff. MTB doesn't owe anyone anything at this point having created 4 masterpieces as well as an unbelieveable 7 song EP. Too bad they don't seem interested in getting that energy back.
  6. cwhit

    still emperor emo Prestigious

  7. popdisaster00

    I'm usually deluded Moderator

    Yep, last album of theirs that I still listen to.

    Nothing will ever eat Menos El Oso :(
  8. Jason Tate likes this.
  9. Aaron Mook likes this.
  10. I'm midway through Sun Kil Moon, so if you want more content for tomorrow, it'll be there. It's been a productive day, haha.
  11. Honestly not sure whether this should be a "Neutral" or "Do Not Recommend" based on how much I like this band but how little I like from this album. I don't hate it and I don't even think it's that bad, but most of it isn't very good and I feel like only really enjoying four tracks means I probably wouldn't recommend it, haha.

    I'll still happily listen to anything they release. Thanks for reading, everyone.
  12. Ska Senanake


    Beeeeeeeer Commercials is very similiar.
  13. theredline

    Trusted Supporter

    Cool review! The amount of reviews are probably one thing I miss from the old site...wish we could see more here...!
    Pepetito, CMilliken, Crisp X and 2 others like this.
  14. Bryan Diem


    Highly Refined Pirates is their best doe
  15. ^Truth
  16. Crisp X

    Don't stop looking at me Supporter

    I think I'm in the minority by saying OMNI is my favorite, but even though, this one isn't doing anything to me. Their previous album was pretty poor IMO as well
    trevorshmevor and Aaron Mook like this.
  17. SEANoftheDEAD


    "Silver" is what I feel like I've been missing from MTB. If this whole album contained songs with that energy and feel, I would have been sooooooo amped!
    Petit nain des Îles likes this.
  18. I dig this album - it's better than IO for sure. I had given up any hope of the band reaching the highs of their first three albums years ago so I just enjoy their newer stuff for what it is
  19. SEANoftheDEAD


    Yeah, after a couple listens, I'm into this. Waaay better than IO.
    Nate_Johnson likes this.
  20. lolfpcmlol


    The 2nd half of the album is so much stronger than the first. From Silver onward, this album is awesome and the ending of lighthouse is some of their best work yet. However, I don't like the production and it seems like too much is going on at times, I've felt that way on every album since planet of ice. Listening back to that album, the guitar is so incredibly crisp and at the center of the mix whereas on this album, there seems to be too many layers and unless you're really listening for it, some cool licks and riffs get lost. It also seems to vary massively depending on speaker and I haven't listened to an album in a while that had this much swing dependent on where i was listening to it (car vs home speakers vs laptop vs headphones).

    I also think the new drummer (while obviously competent) has completely changed the dynamic of the band. Erase and silver both have huge planet of ice feels from the intros but the drumming goes in a different direction than anticipated. For Silver especially I was expecting that kind of bouncy, groovy beat found on double vision quest and it turns into a more upbeat faster feel.

    Overall though i dig it and can't wait to hear some of these songs live. I'm not sure it will have too much staying power though but i think the next show will be one of the best ive seen from them if they play some of my early favorites from this album.
  21. Pepetito

    Trusted Supporter

    I am pretty much here. I no longer expect a full album worth of great songs (Pirates, Menos, Ice). I just hope they throw out a few great ones every now and then. I really like Last Kiss, Invisible, Boat, Silver, and Lighthouse. Silver will sound awesome live.
  22. chris-wrecker


    Im really digging this, outside a few duds. There is something about the production that I can't quite put my finger on, thats seems to hold it back aswell. They have always been a live band for me, so imagine I would like this album even more live.
    Nate_Johnson and Aaron Mook like this.
  23. DrummerX1105


    Totally agree with the review. I feel like they wanted to "stay hip to the kids" and ended up trying to sound like Two-Door Cinema Club. There's riffage on the album but I feel like it's put on the backburner and not in the forefront. Oh well, still can't wait to see them live and especially with Beach Slang!
  24. SEANoftheDEAD


    I really dont get the Two Door comparison, at all. After a few listens, I have to disagree with this review.
  25. ohitsjustrob

    "The only truth is music." Supporter

    Well that gives me some hope. Been at work and haven't checked it yet. I read this review and was like damn! A do not recommend?!?!? From Minus??? So seeing you say your opinion differing makes me feel a little better about what I'm about to dive into.