I bought the Seattle band's self-produced demo and professionally recorded debut directly from their record company Suicide Squeeze's distributor. It's been about a month and I'm ready to write.
At first listen, all the songs sound the same. It's hard to describe, but if you've gone through a punk or metal phase (or are still in one), you'll know what I mean. You hear noise and screaming and everything's too fast. But your ears begin to pick out the intricacies and you discover that each song is unique.
The guitar players for Minus The Bear have a unique style that my ears were not accustomed to, so it took a while to differentiate between the songs. There is a lot of single note playing that, for lack of a better word, sound like math. Or computers. Maybe it's called math rock; I've heard that term thrown around before. What this adds up to is a set of songs that comes off as a variation on a theme. All are distortion-free, all are pretty, all are highly melodic. And most have a groove. If pressed to give them a defined genre, synth-guitar-pop sounds about right.
The song titles and lyrics are among the wackiest I've heard. "Hey, Wanna Throw Up?" "I Lost All My Money At The Cock Fights." "Women We Haven't Met Yet." Cool.
Overall, I like the album. It does rock at times despite a decidedly low-key feel. The arrangements are done well and the creative riffs are there. The bass player does an especially good job of navigating his way through the guitars and synths while still holding down the melody and rhythm. I think this band is on the way to finding its own unique sound and making a niche for themselves.