Minus the Bear – VOIDS

4 out of 5
Produced by: Sam Bell
Label: Suicide Squeeze
15 years down the road, I in no way would have predicted that the borne-from-hardcore-bands, initially so-called ‘supergroup’ of Minus the Bear – with their gimmicky finger-tapping and chuckly song titles – would have ever evolved into the indie-spotlight darlings they did post Menos del Oso, and then, furthermore, to overcome their most sappy indulgences to emerge from the other side of that as a premiere pop music act.  Excusing that initial “finding themselves” period up through del Oso, there have been what I would consider highs and lows, with the bleakness of Planet of Ice particularly noteworthy, and Omni a disappointingly blase followup.  Infinity Overhead put the group back on solid standing, however, and had a comfortable feeling of maturity to it.  While it’s unfortunate that that potential growth – in terms of these guys playing together as Minus the Bear – is now ended with VOIDS being their final album, it’s rather satisfying for the band to end things on the good terms the album offers: VOIDS revels in the group’s well-earned confidence, mining, lyrically, similar relationship and life woes from what’s come before and offering variations on the slick and composed compositions of Infinity Overhead, all shined, shaped, and zipped up to a fault.  That fault is the sacrifice of any bright standout moment: VOIDS is so incredibly tight that every track is equally toe-tapworthy; lead singer Jake Snider twirling his thoughts into inoffensive and catchy choruses and the group’s mix of keys and math-lite guitar work varied enough to be memorable but not particularly showy.  This all makes the disc one of MtB’s most consistently satisfying, from start to finish, but also one that I don’t come away from with a track that necessarily gets stuck in my head, at least moreso than the others.
For a group with which I’ve had a somewhat tumultuous love/hate relationship over the years, VOIDS is possibly the disc I’d point to firstly as an intro to a new listener.  They’ve existed fitfully across the mathier rock / indie pop nexus from album to album, but their final release does an impressive job of summing up all that they’ve done really well and presenting it in a particularly pristine – albeit with the edges shorn off – package.
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