Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
Record label: Dangerbird Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
With albums as tightly constructed as Minus the Bear's, it's hard to imagine that there's much left over after the recording process is over and done with. Those knotty, intricate albums come at a cost, and songs that once paid the ultimate price in the name of consistency get a second chance on Lost Loves. Resurrecting songs from the recording sessions that spawned 2007's Planet of Ice, 2010's Omni, and 2012's Infinity Overhead, the collection lovingly compiles these nearly forgotten (or at the very least hard to find) gems into what feels more or less like a complete album.
Minus The Bear occupy an entirely awkward position within their own musical sphere; they’re from the Pacific Northwest, but their own particular brand of indie rock doesn’t quite fit in with the titans of the region, whether it be godfathers of grunge like Nirvana or Pearl Jam or the altogether more refined likes of Death Cab For Cutie and The Decemberists. That’s something that their long-held penchant for experimentation has seen to, which is perhaps why a record quite like Lost Loves doesn’t feel like a massive stretch for them, or something to be approached in a manner that takes a lack of cohesion as a given; after all, in the past, that’s often been the cases with Minus the Bear releases proper, anyway. Lost Loves is actually a compilation of unreleased tracks; in effect, cuts that were lopped off of the original running orders for their five albums to date.
The first question you encounter when listening to Lost Loves, the sixth full-length album from Seattle’s Minus the Bear, is whether it’s really an album at all. The follow-up to 2012’s Infinity Overhead strings together 10 songs from various points in the band’s career, all of them left on the editing floor when the time came to sequence their previous albums. So now that these tunes — the oldest of which date back to 2007 and Planet of Ice — have been swept out of the trash heap, spit-shined, and sweetly branded as “lost loves,” the question becomes: Does this collection hold up on its own merits, or is it just another cash-grabbing assortment of B-sides from a band that’s running short on actual ideas? If you’re inclined to think the latter, I won’t blame you.