A Little Too Easy on the Ears
Minus the Bear’s fourth album, OMNI, is impressive for a live studio recording. It’s got a perfectly constructed sound, full of poppy electro synth lines and catchy hooks. But OMNI is a little too manufactured, a little too groomed for the Seattle-based quintet.
The album’s opening track, “My Time,” is danceable and slick with sexualized lyrics (“You taste like wine / sweat rolls down your thigh”), but Jake Snider’s vocals aren’t seductive at all. They fall flat, dry and devoid of real feeling. Tracks like “Hold Me Down” and “Summer Angel” are straightforward, fast and percussive, driven by rocking guitar riffs and tight bass lines. They’re much less sonically and structurally interesting than the band’s earlier efforts on Menos el Oso or Planet of Ice.
“Excuses” begins a bit lackluster, stuck behind a repetitive guitar riff, but Snider provides a sweet vocal melody to accompany swaying synths through the chorus. A complex melange of piano, synth, and spacey effects makes the song’s bridge interesting and shows the band’s capability for experimentation. So does “The Thief,” with its jazzy feel, slinking funk guitars, and syncopated rhythms. But for the most part, it seems like the band’s creative impulse is repressed behind neatly devised electro hooks. “Animal Backwards” is the most adventurous track on the album, but the synthesizers and techno effects scattered throughout it are almost incoherent at times.
OMNI is easy to listen to, and it can be rather catchy. It just doesn’t fulfill Minus the Bear’s potential to create truly interesting and innovative music. Maybe next time around the band will find its niche, but for now OMNI will keep toes tapping to its pseudo-disco beats.