Music Reviews
Minus the Bear

Minus the Bear

They Make Beer Commercials Like This

Arena Rock

There’s not nearly as much sustained mania on They Make Beer Commercials Like This as there was on Highly Refined Pirates, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of rehashing the complex and compelling math-rock riffs that typified their full-length’s stronger songs, the band explores and expands the ambient instrumental linking material from that disc. “Let’s Play Clowns” kicks off with a low ebb of electric soundscapes with frenetic drums piloting the song’s course through subdued guitar interplay on the verses and finally to genuine metal riffing on the chorus. “Dog Park” is equally opaque, but is shot through with moments of hard-charging lucidity that breaks the track’s murkiness. Perhaps the best track, “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien” is downright gentle, aching through its languidly strummed chorus and riding teardrops of arpeggios in the verses.

As much as the music may be a great step forward for the band, they play the lyrics extremely close to the vest. The band is still obsessed with solitude, summertime, midnight rendezvous, girls! girls! girls!, and other emo errata that in lesser hands would come off saccharine as hell, but with Minus the Bear there’s a feeling of actual romance behind them.

As with Highly Refined Pirates, my appreciation for this EP has grown exponentially with the time I’ve spent with it. Unfortunately, with the last one I wrote my review too soon, but I think this one’s timed just right. Highly recommended.

Arena Rock:

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