Album Reviews

Minus The Bear – Omni

(Dangerbird) UK release date: 23 August 2010

Minus The Bear are pretty hard to place. They’ve never beencritical darlings, but their albums have done modestly well, landingmainly in the lukewarm three-star range – and they’re not commercialblockbusters either. But over the span of their 10-year career their name hasstarted popping up in the bottom half of billboards across the world.The public doesn’t really know where to place them in the greathierarchy of rock ‘n’ roll bands. Minus The Bear have a distinctsound, but it seems they’ve never really pushed themselves,instead opting to revel in the mid-level House of Blues circuit realmof modest pay and modest popularity.

So it may seem that their latest record Omni is a reaction toeverything people find frustrating about the band. Minus The Bearhave created a perplexing, occasionally enthralling (and occasionallyflat-out goofy) mess of an album, mostly about sex. The arcane timesignatures and math-informed musicianship is still here, but never hasthe band sounded so willfully whimsy. Loungey opener My Time isprobably one of the most awkward sex songs ever written, occasionallyreaching face-palming levels of face-reddening lyricism: “You tastelike sweet wine, we are magnified, the sweat rolls down your thigh.”Into The Mirror features a narrative about a blowjob in a bathroom soblatant and gratuitous, it’s almost as if it simply has to be metaphorfor something else. Omni is thoroughly dominated by these plain-facedthemes of sexuality, rendering it rather off-putting on first listen,especially coming from a band like Minus The Bear.

The musicianship displayed on Omni is still very impressive. MinusThe Bear have always got by on their talent for building spiraling,inter-wrapped melodies of icy guitar and computer-programmed drums, andall of that is in place. However as before, despite how technicallyimpressive the quintet is, they still have a hard time latching in tothe listener. Omni suffers significantly by not having any reallymemorable moments – its atmosphere is impressive and is remarkablydistant from influences, but the record can honestly be a bit of achore to listen to. Minus The Bear’s sound is so chiseled, sosterilized, that the hormone-fueled emotions they are singing aboutare lost in the mix.

However you’ve got to give the band props for trying, Omni could’veeasily been another average, run-of-the-mill Minus The Bear album,destined for praise normalized into a collective “yeah that’s prettygood, I guess”. And as it stands Omni is a slightly less than averageMinus The Bear album with a huge amount of batshit ambition andmisguided songwriting that results in an hour of music that isn’t awhole lot of fun to listen to, but has a plenty of weird kinks to talkabout. If the world wants to point at the band’s best album it’seasily Planet of Ice, but if we’re in the business of recognizing agroup’s ethos, Omni stands as the prime example of what Minus The Bearwant to achieve.

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Minus The Bear – Omni