Marching down the increasingly electronic path set before them on 2007’s Planet of Ice, Minus the Bear continue to evolve their knotty, math-tinged indie pop away from traditional arrangements and into more synthesized spaces. On Omni, drum machines accompany live drums, and the intricately tapped guitar lines are accented, and sometimes out and out replaced, by winding synths. The effect is an even more relaxed and breezy Minus the Bear than listeners might be used to.
The appeal of Seattle’s Minus the Bear has always lain with the fact that the band’s music has managed to be both steadfastly loyal to the past and incredibly futuristic. Albums like 2002’s Highly Refined Pirates, Menos el Oso from 2005, and last year’s stopgap compilation Acoustics showed off the group’s brand of mathy post-emo rock. With their intricately-layered guitars, complex rhythms, and prominent drums, Minus the Bear seemed heavily indebted to mid-‘90s artists like Dismemberment Plan, Sunny Day Real Estate, and American Football.
Indie rock has often had an uneasy relationship with sex. While some bands in that realm are capable of carnality and seduction, many would rather let the sonics do the work, and lyrically, it can be tough to reconcile base sensations with music that prides itself on its intelligence. In this context comes Omni, a record of lite-funk trappings and lyrics about the pleasures of the flesh that would be sketchy enough as a debut from a band trying to get that Maroon 5 money.