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Album Review: VOIDS by Minus the Bear

Minus the Bear release their sixth full-length album, VOIDS, on 3rd March via Suicide Squeeze Records. For the past 15 years Minus the Bear have made music on their own terms while carving out their own unique musical world, selling over 500k records in the process and playing to countless sold out crowds along the way.

Throughout the first decade of their existence, every new album offered a new musical approach, as seen in the idiosyncratic fretboard gymnastics of Highly Refined Pirates, the glitchy loops of Menos el Oso, or the modernized Fripp- inspired wizardry of Planet of Ice. By the time the band entered our current decade, their knack for reinvention yielded to an emphasis on refinement. Albums like OMNI and Infinity Overhead searched for a middle ground where their myriad of stylistic approaches could all work within the context of a single record.

VOIDS turns things on its head and Minus the Bear have a blank slate. This marks a new chapter in the bands career. Whilst the album retains many of the band’s signature qualities—the hedonistic tales of night-time escapism and candid vignettes of adulthood, the savvy up-tempo beats, the layered and nuanced instrumentation— it re-invents the mood of the band, allowing you to instantly fall in love with new nuances.

“There was a lot of change and uncertainty,” says guitarist David Knudson. “I think the general vibe of emptiness, replacement, lacking, and longing to fill in the gaps was very present in everyone’s minds.” While there’s a bleakness to a lot of the lyrical content – ‘Last Kiss’ and ‘Call the Cops’ as two prime examples – there’s something uplifting and optimistic at the core of the music. Both of the aforementioned tracks come into their own with blustering pop hooks and delectable catchiness.

Throughout VOIDS you feel like your reconnecting with an old friend. It’s familiar, you recognise what you loved first time around but the changes are obvious and it’s like a new and improved version. ‘Invisible’ is uniquely Minus the Bear with its intricately accessible guitar work and big choruses. This time it’s enhanced with a stronger focus on keyboards moving the band onto the next level. ‘What About the Boat?’ is a beautifully bleak and fragile track that perfectly encapsulates the loss after a breakup. Emotive and deeply personal, one of the many high points of VOIDS.

Simply put there’s not a weak point on VOIDS and it could easily be considered amongst Minus the Bear’s best work. While ‘Silver’ takes advantage of the fresh focus on the keyboard side, guitar fans will be appeased by the groove and riff heavy ‘Tame Beasts’ which sees the band at their most adventurous and expansive while also coming in as one of the most immediate and enthralling track on the album. There’s another achingly tender moment as ‘Erase’ starts out before it stomps into a commanding pop rock track. ‘Robotic Heart’ blisters and throbs before ‘Lighthouse’ closes proceedings in a perfect encapsulation of the bands new sound.

AD Rating 8.5/10

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2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Alt Dialogue’s 2017 Quarter 1 Review – Alt Dialogue
  2. Alt Dialogue’s Top 100 Albums of 2017 Part 2: 50 – 1 – Alt Dialogue

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