Seattle-based Minus the Bear are back with more of what we've come to know and love. Lyrically provocative and sensual, the sound is again groovy and electric. This time out, their new album’s overall tone is quite a bit happier and sunnier than their 2008 release Ice Planet. So, stylistically, OMNI sounds more like 2003’s Menos El Oso, but it's still a good step forward from all of the band’s earlier work. OMNI evokes a retro '80s feel with the inclusion of a keytar throughout. Still, the retro feel is incorporated as just another element and it doesn't overshadow or hurt the band's overall sound. Somehow, Minus the Bear continues to improve as OMNI includes some of the band's best work to date.
OMNI opens with what could be the band’s catchiest track to date. The groovy keytar-driven "My Time" opens with Minus the Bear in all of their experimental, electro-pop glory. Like most catchy tracks it’s a double-edged sword. I was hooked initially, but now find myself skipping the track as it’s worn out its welcome a bit. "Secret Country" is another standout. It offers more traditional guitar work than usual, but still has their textbook changes of pace and some featured synthesizers.
Minus the Bear gets back to their mainstay lyrically with the chill, pillow talk found in "Excuses" and the moodier "Into the Mirror." The latter is accessible, but sounds like nothing on the airwaves today. The mid-tempo track is like an '80s pop throwback and it features some rare female vocals. The sound is different from the band's earlier work, but still has the band’s unique fingerprint.
"Animal Backwards," which follows "Into the Mirror," is an infectiously fun pseudo-dance remix of "Into the Mirror." It's got more of the same man-eater lyrics, but a distorted, reversed sounding backing track. It's more than just a gimmicky interlude, it's a full-fledged song that showcases Minus the Bear's brilliance and creativity. “Animal Backwards” encompasses what I had hoped their remix album Interpretaciones del Oso would have been. I challenge anyone to sit completely still while listening to this track.
"Dayglow Vista Rd." is another favorite with a progressive up-tempo feel. This street is much sunnier than their other street-named song "Memphis & 53rd" from Menos El Oso. It's vintage Minus the Bear including more narrative love story lyrics and a rock foundation laced with electronic effects, that add up to a beautiful unique sound.
The unique, but still accessible, sounds of OMNI may very well bring Minus the Bear to new audiences while still satisfying long time fans like myself. Pick up OMNI to spice up your summer listening.