Minus the Bear
Menos el Oso
I’ve never been to Europe, but every Minus the Bear album is full of the most romantic, wine-fuelled tales of the continent I’ve heard. It sounds like a place of breezy summer exploration, beach relaxation and the giddiness of foreign romance set to the strains of intricate indie rock. Menos el Oso does little to distinguish itself lyrically from its predecessors, but why change a working formula? The group is showing some strides toward maturing, however. Gone are absurdist song titles about Crisco, ninjas and aliens that other, lesser bands have co-opted. In their stead, names at least somewhat pertaining to the song’s content belie the band’s sincerity. It’s a welcome change of pace from the genre’s overwhelming ironic diffusion.
As with the stop-gap EP They Make Beer Commercials Like This, this disc doesn’t contain the heightened sense of mania Highly Refined Pirates had coursing through its veins. In fact, Menos feels more conceived through studio effects than with a live band. Many of the guitar lines sound less organic than on past releases, there’s more reliance on tape manipulation to pull off jittery guitar riffs than old-fashioned instrument proficiency. I don’t mean to say that this direction is a bad decision, it’s perfectly fitting that these guys are feeling the need to steer their sound down new alleyways, and as long as they end up evoking what, in my mind, it feels to run hand-in-hand with a beautiful girl on edge of the Mediterranean, I’ll keep coming back for more.
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