Seattle-based math rock quartet Minus The Bear are no strangers to reinvention.
Each of the five albums they’ve released in their 15-year career have pursued distinct experimental avenues. With sixth album VOIDS, the band’s focus falls on as many different references and influences as its 45 minutes will allow, from the dance-tinged electronica running through opener Last Kiss to Erase’s gentle neo-soul and the jangly guitars of finale Lighthouse. The tracks are upbeat and optimistic, despite lyrics which fixate mainly on heartbreak and other unclassified sorrow. Album highlight Silver is a thrumming, fast-paced indie epic fuelled by soaring guitar solos and crashing, multi-layered choruses. However, where MTB have pushed themselves, VOIDS leans heavily on the more obvious elements of gleaming indie-pop and stadium rock. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: VOIDS is crammed full of the sorts of choruses that would make Guy Garvey envious. But such polish can result in a loss of personality, and that’s a compromise the band struggle with here. A little light for the hardcore prog fan but fans of deftly-crafted, intelligent pop will find much to appreciate.