Minus The Bear - Infinity Overhead

A marked improvement on their previous album.

The fifth studio album by Seattle-based rock quintet Minus The Bear is something of a regression acting as revitalisation. The band’s previous long-player, 2010’s ’Omni’, attempted to incorporate a more overt electronic sound into their direct, crushing rock; however, that electronic diversion was something of a misstep that is pleasingly rectified here.

‘Infinity Overhead’ sees the band returning to a very much riff-based rock approach. Adding to the feeling of tradition, it’s been produced by their former keyboardist, sound guru Matt Bayles; a perfect combination. While the record largely eschews too much experimentation in favour of a very direct and straight ahead sound, it is in Minus The Bears’ own idiosyncratic style. Opening track ‘Steel And Blood’ is a massive piece of anthemic rock, but its familiar sound is illuminated by time signatures, guitar effects and a restless spirit.

Much of the material here is rooted in big powerful rock anthems. There are hooks a plenty all over the record. Minus The Bear’s real skill is in harnessing these, and a real pop sensibility with interesting sounds and complex instrumentation. The guitars never quite go in the direction you expect yet it all sounds rather effortless and simple. ‘Toska’ is perhaps the best example of the album’s style: the chorus is among the best here, juxtaposed with some guitar tapping and shape shifting riffs that give it an entirely different effect.

As the record progresses there are unfortunately moments when the pace drops and the band lurch into overwrought expanse. ‘Heaven Is A Ghost Town’ particularly drifts off into a sprawling guitar epic. There is also a conflict within the album between a soulful pop sound and traditional guitar dynamics. This is heard on ’Empty Party Rooms’, which begins as a languid and laidback slow jam with singer Jack Snider’s voice especially strong before morphing into typically progressive guitar rock. It is a conflict that the band cannot seem to fully resolve.

Minus The Bear may have returned to the style that made their name, but there is still enough mileage in that sound to ensure that ’Infinity Overhead’ is a marked improvement on their previous album.

Tags: Minus The Bear, Reviews, Album Reviews

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