Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Minus The Bear: "Lost Loves" (album review)

Let's put this entire thing in context from the get-go: I've never been a huge Minus The Bear fan.  They fall firmly in the 'they're okay' slot for me.

So take that into account as I write about their new album Lost Loves.  This is a collection of rare and/or unreleased material that spans their 2007-2012 recording sessions.

One of the things I've always found hard to overcome with the band is that the elements of their songs often seem to be on the same sonic plateau.  What I mean by that is that no one part, be it the guitar, vocals, or rhythm section, is a particular focal point, nor is there much range in those over the course of a song.  In my book that makes for not very engaging music.

That problem crops up, unsurprisingly, several times during Lost Loves.  Tracks like "Southside Life" and "Your Private Story" have a droning feel.  Even the more energetic "Walk On Air" leaves little to hold on to.

Thankfully, since this is a career-spanning document (and full of castoffs that tend to be more experimental), there are many more moments in which the music is diverse.

While it is a bit too much 'bull-in-a-china-shop' with guitars smeared all over the place, "Broken China" deserves credit for breaking out of the group's tight restraints.  "Inverted Memory" has an intriguing dance music influence to it's structure.  Even though it comes off as somewhat slimy in it's seductive approach, "Patiently Waiting" is a refreshingly subdued number.

The highlights tend to occur when the drums and bass pick up.  The industrial rumble of "Cat Calls Ill Me" and the meaty bottom-end drive of "Surf N' Turf" give a glimpse at a band that could be so much more forceful and impactful if they chose to be.

Lost Loves probably isn't a great starting point for folks who aren't already fans of Minus The Bear, but it does serve as a valuable nugget for those who are already enthralled with the band.

Best tracks: "Surf N' Turf", "Inverted Memory"

Track listing for Lost Loves:
  • Electric Rainbow
  • Surf N' Turf
  • Broken China
  • Walk On Air
  • Patiently Waiting
  • Cat Calls Ill Me
  • Inverted Memory
  • Southside Life
  • Your Private Sky
  • The Lucky Ones

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