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Omni by Minus The Bear
Minus The Bear
Seattle, Washington band Minus The Bear has taken a turn for the worse. It is often difficult to describe what differentiates a successful indie-pop album from an unsuccessful one, and the true differences are in the details.
Omni has all of the key ingredients that when cooked properly make for a great album: Dance-worthy beats, interesting and complex song structures, and catchy lyrics. But the chef made a mistake with this one somewhere along the line – the finished product leaves you full, but unsatisfied, and there is a bitter taste that lingers long after you have pushed the plate away.
Every element that should be there, is, but the album in its entirety can be described in a word: mediocre.
The lead track, “My Time”, is as to Omni as a strobe light is to a bad party – an irritating and unnecessary addition to something you already wish was not happening. Lead singer Jake Snider’s vocals fall flat over the synth cacophony going on in the background. The instrumentals sound more like an old video game than anything else – but I’ll take Mario and Luigi over this song any day.
“Summer Angel” and “Secret Country”, the next two tracks, are prime examples of why this album failed. When taken apart and analyzed, it seems apparent that they will both be successful tracks that will stand out on the album. But when you step back and listen to them, the musical experience is lacking. The songs are not terrible, exactly, but they are nothing special and do not in any way stand out from the rest of the album. They just lie there, and could easily be exchanged with any other generic, over-synthesized indie-pop tune without being much missed.
“Hold Me Down” is by far the most confusing of tracks on the album. It vaguely brings to mind The Killers in their early days, except overall not as catchy. The song begins with quiet vocals and, if you can believe it, a real guitar. Your ear drums finally start to relax, and the mellow tone of the song is almost pleasing.
And then the chorus hits. With it, comes more annoying synth and heavier instrumentals that threaten to drown out the vocals in a grotesque chaos of electric guitar and synthesizer. The song continues on in this manner until Snider begins quietly repeating the line “I’m giving you up”. He sounds desperate in a soft and painful way, and towards the end of this begins to sound almost threatening.
After the off-putting former track, “Excuses” feels heaven-sent. It is not particularly fast, particularly loud, or particularly complicated, but it works perfectly. It is soft and mellow with the tiniest edge, and allows the listener to breathe a sigh of relief while they mentally prepare themselves for the rest of the album.
That mental preparation proves to be absolutely necessary with the next three songs. “The Thief”, “Into The Mirror”, and “Animal Backwards” are almost physically painful to listen to. They are, simply, awkward. The tracks do not sound even remotely well put-together. In fact, these songs are the musical equivalent of putting various oddities into a food processor, plugging it in, and wishing for the best.
Evidently the band’s wishes weren’t granted, however. Instead of something mouthwateringly delicious, all they ended up with was a somewhat disgusting choppy mix that no one would want to digest.
“Dayglow Vista Rd” is hands-down the strongest track on this record, and is the only one that will be remembered fondly. Somewhat reminiscent of the Kings of Leon, this track has strong, simple vocals that carry well over the background music. This song is perhaps the most effortlessly adapted for the stage, and could potentially be quite powerful live. It was actually extremely pleasing to listen to, and its simplicity and strength stood out amongst the other throwaway songs that littered the album.
“Fooled By The Night” seems like a poor choice to end an album with. While the previous song, which was powerful and memorable, would have left a lasting impact, this song does just the opposite. It is seven and a half minutes of quiet, dreary nothingness. Although it is not the awkward, harsh mess of some of the previous songs, this is almost worse in comparison. It seems to slowly eat away at the sanity of the listener as they go through all seven minutes of the same self-indulgent ridiculousness.
This song is truly a bore, and all in all sums up Omni absolutely perfectly: boring, half-hearted, and not worth the time spent listening.