Half a decade down from their first album to crack the U.S. top 40 and it’s no surprise that Minus the Bear up the pop on their sixth record. ‘Invisible’ is a full-chested emo banger (don’t worry, there’s some tapping in the breakdown), and opener ‘Last Kiss’ is well hooky too. That said, those craving the classic MtB schtick will find plenty to love here - try math-athon ‘What About the Boat?’
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- SSQ152LPC1 / Limited indies only splatter/coloured vinyl LP on Suicide Squeeze, housed in die-cut sleeve with printed inner sleeve
- Includes download code
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I used to be on this internet forum with a guy who went under the username of Minus The Flair. An awful pun, but in 2017, he is extremely correct: Minus the Bear have got very, very little going on. They used to be a guiding light for the kind of streamlined math rock Foals ended up moving towards, crafting tunes that wedged their way between technicalities and feelings. The distance cast between a record like ‘Planet of Ice’ -- which introduced many a young alt-rock enthusiast to weird time signatures and structural fuckery -- and a record like their pop-oriented ‘OMNI’, is palpable, but no bad thing. ‘VOIDS’, however, feels largely devoid of any content at all, sorta just existing in the realm of anthemic pop music but never belonging to it while struggling to return to some form of the band’s roots.
Opener “Last Kiss” is a fine song performed in the least convincing of ways, sorta rolling its squeaky guitar riffing along with the pretence of energy without really making me feel it. “Give & Take” is a synth-studded tune with a syncopated verse that somehow feels totally standard. A tune like “Invisible” demonstrates their ability to create gargantuan emo hooks around guitar lines that spin all internal like a gyroscope, but the sparkling production and low-stakes delivery give it a flat feeling, the band making it sound busy but not blustery.
What I want is some sort of ineffable edge, or a band even minutely excited to be doing the inventive things they can do. The guitars shine on tunes like “Silver” and the soft rock shake-up of “Erase”, but they feel stuffed into linear songs that make no sense to them, fading into the backdrop of far less interesting proceedings. 'VOIDS' works very much in its own well-oiled way, but I'd quite like everything to fall apart.
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