Minus The Bear’s “OMNI”

“I’ve been warned that this album doesn’t sound like their previous work, and that it’s definitely less angsty, but, hey. If I do have a summer fling that ends horribly? I know where to turn. And I know where to go for a good listen in between.” -Sarah Bates

Guest Writer
Minus the Bear - Omni

out of 10

May 4, 2010

I’ve never heard Minus The Bear before this album. My younger brother has been telling me to listen to them, but I never quite got around to it. You know how those things go. It’s not that I don’t trust my younger brother’s music taste—I just don’t trust his music taste. We agree on so much, but when we disagree, it’s because he likes progressive metal and I want to listen to The Ditty Bops. Point being, I wasn’t expecting the build up of drums on OMNI’s first track to turn into anything less than raging, angst-laden guitar solo.

The bright burst of synesthesia and the 80’s reminiscent vibe that followed a moment later caught me completely unaware. OMNI has an underlying funk that my dad would jam to—he likes head bobbing and defined hip movements, but so do I. I like music that makes me tap my feet too loudly at my desk, and the keyboards and bass give OMNI a soul feel—okay, they give it the feel of Prince song imitating a church organ with a keyboard, making me want nothing more than to get up and dance.

The album continues with a unique rhythm throughout that, while maintaining originality to each song, blends together, making the album a cohesive whole. The funk is more than a steadily grooving bass. The tone is that of a more carefully written 70s/80s “I Wanna Do You All Night Long” song. Lead singer Jake Snider’s voice reminds me of Fall Out Boy’s lead singer Patrick Stump, and the lyrics aren’t entirely dissimilar. But, where other bands have the “Boy meets Girl + They Have Sex + Their Love Goes Sour” algorithm, OMNI sticks to the equation of “Boy meets Girl + They Have Sex”… and lots of it.

OMNI’s lyrics range from cleverly woven innuendo to straight up direct talk. From “Turn off the lights/ touch me in the dark” in “My Time” to “and when she moved down/ she made my back arc” in “Summer Angel,” there’s no masking exactly what the songs are about.  But that doesn’t make them any less sexy. The album continues on with a strong performance on every song, though the middle provides a bit of a stumbling block. I attribute it to two things: “Hold Me Down” reminded me of “She’s like the Wind.” Maybe it’s something about the chords mixed with the melody of Snider’s voice, or maybe it’s the sheer fact that the lyrics contain the words “the wind” with a similar intonation.

Then there’s “The Thief.” It is trite and it’s cliché. I kept telling myself that it could be intentional, that it’s a commentary on the banality of modern love song lyrics, that it’s all just a clever play with words, but it’s not, and I hate it. “You’ve got a rich dad/ who hates every boy like me/ I’ve got no money/ and daddy don’t like my ease/ I wanna steal you like a pearl/ I wanna display you like a diamond.” It killed the last few songs on the album for me. “Into The Mirror” seemed instantly dim because of “The Thief.” It was redeemed by the guest vocals of Rachel Flotard of Visqueen and her wafting, eerie voice singing one really great metaphor: “the lie she hangs on his neck/ like a silver chain to her whim.”

Here is my, and what I’m told is very specific, gut reaction to OMNI: it’s an album that I could, if I broke up with someone this fall after a summer of naked beach toes, end up hating. Not because it’s bad—it’s a great album. I could listen to it all day and see myself totally falling into someone as I fell further into this album. But, if it ended badly, I’d play this album on repeat until my ears bled. It would seep so far into me that I couldn’t handle it and I’d have to set it aside for years just to listen to it again and wonder “Why did I let that a**hole ruin this album for me?”

OMNI’s release is perfectly timed for long, hot summer days and equally hot, but for different reasons, summer nights. It’s rhythmic, catchy and addicting. And it sounds like several people were getting it on the regular while this album was being made.
So, at the end of it, my brother and I agree on Minus The Bear… and he’s jealous that I heard OMNI first. Apparently, so are his girlfriend and half my friends. And apparently, I’m the only person in my friend group who hasn’t heard Minus The Bear before. As an introduction, I’m ready to listen to more. I’ve been warned that this album doesn’t sound like their previous work, and that it’s definitely less angsty, but, hey. If I do have a summer fling that ends horribly? I know where to turn. And I know where to go for a good listen in between.