Review: Minus the Bear – Infinity Overhead

The past few years have not been good to Minus the Bear. You see, the Seattle quintet were once quite the indie darlings after their 2002 debut Highly Refined Pirates and its 2005 follow-up, Menos el Oso. Then in 2007, the band released Planet of Ice to mixed reactions. While it couldn’t match the greatness of their first two albums, PoI was a very enjoyable collection of songs that appeared to showcase Minus the Bear’s maturation. What followed was a sheer disaster. 2009’s OMNI was so bad I had all but written off the band. So if you’re keeping track at home, the band had gone from from great to good to nearly unlistenable in a matter of seven years. Unfortunately the band’s new album follows this exact trajectory.

There is one great song on Infinity Overhead, which is more than most bands can say. If I didn’t know any better, I would guess “Diamond Lightning” was written years ago and got left on the cutting room floor. After a few listens I’ve warmed up to a few other tracks, most notably “Steel and Blood” and “Cold Company”. These cuts aren’t great, but they aren’t bad either. Things go downhill pretty quick after that. “Lies and Eyes” and “Toska” are not good by any stretch of the imagination, and the album’s first single “Lonely Gun” is downright unlistenable. The faux-clap beat that intercuts the Sonic-like synthesizer is akin to pounding my head against a brick wall.

All in all, the album is incredibly confusing. There is no cohesion whatsoever. I’m past feeling disappointed with Minus the Bear, that ship sailed three years ago when I first heard “Into the Mirror”. Its unfortunate that band can’t seem to rediscover themselves, because there are moments where it appears they are on the cusp of getting back to what they once were before it all just falls apart.

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