Minus the Bear | Infinity Overhead (Dangerbird)

cd minus-infinityThe quintet has an impeccable way of mixing dark and light sounds and subject matter.

 

Creating a refined and exciting record isn’t easy for any band, especially for Minus the Bear, who seemingly turned a few fans away with their 2010 release Omni. Their latest effort, Infinity Overhead, however, smartly mixes the successes of their past four albums and capitalizes on them in a most mysterious fashion.

The chugging guitar of “Steel and Blood” tears the album open with grim lyrics describing a horrific car crash. Getting wrapped up in the swirling synthesizers, distorted guitar, and funky back beats is easier when you try not to think about the ominous lyrics: “Two become one, the confining of a car crash/ Steel and blood, and it’s over with the silence.” The guitar work is reminiscent of Highly Refined Pirates-era Minus the Bear on the second tune, “Lies and Eyes” while the beat is danceable, much like Omni.

“Diamond Lightning” heavily emphasizes resonant guitar, both individual twinkling lines, and large chords sweeping across a seductive soundscape. The song clocks in at nearly five minutes and each second is achingly ravishing—this is a song best listened to under dim lights and shared with a special someone. “Diamond Lightning” bleeds into the third track, “Toska,” which takes the allure from the previous song to a sensual dance party, full of fluttering guitar loops and synthesized orchestral strings. “Toska” opens with a lead-foot kick drum beat imploring the listener to move their body; layers beautiful vocal and guitar melodies; and features a Minus the Bear mainstay of intricate guitar tapping that leads to a rapturous guitar solo.

A lighthearted romp, “Listing” is one of the safer tunes on the album, musically speaking. That’s not to say it is bad: the guitar upstrokes, playful rhythms and vocalist Jake Snider’s rich, all-encompassing voice make for a very fun track.

It doesn’t take long for Minus the Bear to step back in to that dark area, though, with “Heaven is a Ghost Town.” The quintet has an impeccable way of mixing dark and light sounds and subject matter, and this theological song is evident of that skill. Here, Snider asks, “Did the Lord stop paying the lease?” and goes on to explain that, in heaven, “It’s so dark at night/ and since they outlawed love/ it gets too cold/ there’s no one to hold”. Strings and glimmering synthesizers and guitars give life to the otherwise melancholy song.

“Zeros” is a punchy, synth-laden rock tune with a driving rhythm section tethering the song down. “Lonely Gun” is another hip, toe-tapping number featuring a weirdly distorted guitar that provides the song’s main line. Much like “Diamond Lightning,” “Lonely Gun” contains lyrics that are less than cheerful. Rounding out the album is “Cold Company,” opening with angular guitar lines and tapping that ultimately swells to its climax when Snider wails, “Feel your hand on the rock.” The energy of “Cold Company” gives the album an explosive ending.

Infinity Overhead is a savvy album from beginning to end that accomplishes a feat many modern rock artists can only hope to achieve. Minus the Bear mixed equal parts sassy and brooding, allure and grim, and ultimately hopeful for an established band who continues to wow their ever-expanding audience. | Jenn Metzler

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