Let's play a game. It's called 'name a better band than Minus the Bear.' Ready, go! Wrong! Ok, you might be right. But let's see you start a review in a more exciting way. You asshole.
This is only the second full-length from Minus the Bear. Or as Michael affectionately calls them, 'Amazing' the Bear, nyuk nyuk nyuk. Although, they did have those three EP's, so it's not like they're new to this. And this one, like everything they've done so far, is great. It's rare for a band to have such an untainted catalogue. Hell, it's downright unfair.
Menos el Oso sees the band branching out a bit. It's difficult to explain what opener 'The Game Needed Me' really sounds like. I was a bit weirded out the first time I heard it. It's a bit slow, with sliding guitar parts, and an almost reggae feel. This might have something to do with the band's apparent trip to Spain, depicted in the liner notes. Or maybe they got those pictures off the internet. But the song grew on me. Keep in mind that I hate reggae as much as the next sensible Canadian.
'Memphis and 53rd' feels a bit more familiar. Here's where we come across the same technical, beautiful pop-rock that we should be used to by now. It continues with 'Drilling' and 'The Fix' which are, quite frankly, the best songs ever. This sound is still prominent in other songs throughout the album, like 'Hooray,' and 'This ain't a Surfin' Movie'
On 'El Torrente' the band ups the electronica, and downs the riffs. 'The Pig War' does the same before the boys get itchy fingers. The songs work exceptionally well, thanks to thought out melodies and a certain subtlety. Think those segues from Highly Refined Pirates if they'd been allowed to turn themselves into actual songs.
One of the strongest aspects of the album is its play with dynamics. This was hinted at in They Make Beer Commercials Like This but only legitimately realized in its last song. Here, nearly every track has some sort of surprise in store. Thankfully.
Nearly every track. The songs that don't, have a tendency to float past without you noticing. The best example is "Fulfill the Dream," which is an average song stuck between two standouts. It hurts the flow, and flow's a good thing on albums like this. "The Game Needed Me" would have this problem too, if it weren't at the beginning. Nevertheless, there are no real bad songs here.
Early in their career, Minus the Bear established that they could write technical songs without sacrificing any melodic consciousness. This album appropriately takes their sound and adds a bit of satisfying spice. They've outdone themselves again, and made one of the best albums I'll hear this year. But I guess they're entitled to that.
8.5 / 10
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