Minus the Bear


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The Seattle-based indie rockers' sixth full-length, and their first outing since the departure of longtime kit man Erin Tate, Voids arrives three years after Minus the Bear's B-sides and rarities collection, Lost Loves, and five years after their last proper studio LP, Infinity Overhead. New drummer Kiefer Matthias is more than up to the task. The band's penchant for pairing tight, loopy beats and mathy guitar noodling with sinewy verse melodies that reveal big rousing choruses is on display early with the lovelorn opener "Last Kiss," one of several cuts that mines heartache and missed connections for emotional riches. Knotty follow-up "Give & Take" and the propulsive "Robot Heart" lean harder on the band's prog and post-punk tendencies, while the moody "Silver" distills both predilections into one of their most immediate and compelling songs to date. Two of Voids' best offerings, the soulful "Call the Cops" and the atmospheric closer "Lighthouse," flirt with dream pop, but the staccato guitar work and soulful croon of frontman Jake Snider helps to keep things firmly in the recognizable Minus the Bear universe. Despite their five-year absence from the studio, the band still sound like the well-oiled machine that discovered their mojo on their 2006 sophomore outing Menos el Oso. There's a bit more pure pop intention to be found on Voids, but it retains the left-field charm that made them one of the more captivating acts to watch amidst the alt-to-indie rock shift that dominated the late '90s and early 2000s.

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