MINUS THE BEAR- Omni
Summer is overrated. It's hot and sweaty and populated by bugs and smug shirtless gits. Minus the Bear know this and the Seattle band have mined a pretty marvelous seam of wintry, snow-capped indie pop over the last few years. Hell, even when writing songs about speed boats and bikinis they've sounded icicle cool. On album number four though, the white hot 'OMNI', they've only gone and embraced the hottest of seasons and produced some of their hottest songs too.
You can feel the burn from the off- opener ‘My Time’ shimmers like heat haze as bom-chicka-wah-wah hooks unfurl everywhere and Dave Knudson plays a lazy surf solo not on his guitar but the electronic omnichord- and it’s all pretty indicative of where this thing is going. We get throbbing basslines, guitars that glitter like bright white surf, airy clear-sky synths, even steel drums. We get lines about summer angels, hot nights and hotter sex (seriously, the band could probably get arrested for some of these lyrics), and music made for afternoons doing nothing, or maybe just doing something naughty, outside.
It’s not all top stuff. The verses of ‘The Thief’ push the sleazy vibe so far it sounds like a joke (although that chorus is just dreamy), ‘Animal Backwards’, which actually is highlight ‘Into the Mirror’ backwards, doesn’t work, and there’s no escaping the fact that something like epic finisher ‘Fooled By the Night’ would sound better flecked in frost not beaded in sweat. Jake Snider's vocals are still set to divide people too- if you've never heard passion in the dude's breathy drawl then you'll find none here either- and despite the talk of new methods and instruments Minus The Bear haven't reinvented a goddamn thing here either.
Really though, that’s fine. ‘Omni’ may be warm not wintry but it turns out Minus the Bear can be a band for all seasons. And in keeping almost everything but the temperature in a similar state as on their last few records they maintain a quality level and consistency increasingly rare in music let alone whatever genre folks are trying to squeeze them in this week. This is Minus the Bear pretty damn close to their best. Hot stuff.
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