By Noah Michael
Playing VOIDS, the first album from Minus the Bear in five years, is immediately quite the shock. Different sounds from different eras fire off instantly, including DL-4 reversed guitar, and that perfectly-danceable-yet-still-mellow tempo they always seem to find. These sounds, however, are all brought together in a disparate and jarring way.
The absence of original drummer Erin Tate means the incredibly awesome/weird rhythms are toned down and the drums themselves match and serve the song a bit more. This gives the album a way more pop sound than we had heretofore experienced. It almost sounds more Coldplay than math rock.
Reminiscence sets in as I remember how – wait a sec – every Minus the Bear album brings in new elements and is confusing for the first few moments. From Menoso El Oso‘s more subdued, reverb-y sound, to Planet of Ice‘s longer songs with synth elements, every album from the Portland math rockers carves out a unique sound.
Ultimately, for this reviewer, what ties it all together are the unabashedly upfront lyrics about sleep, regret, memory, drug use, sex, and being human sung with that signature “aloofness” by Jake Snider. By the fourth song, “Invisible,” the elements have coalesced and the band’s vision for VOIDS comes home as a sick, tapping riff enters for the bridge. Minus the Bear succeed with another unique, amazing album, but may lose some fans enticed by their earlier sounds. Still, this reviewer is happy to follow them into the future.Minus the Bear, VOIDS