The release of any number of albums following the debut is supposedly a difficult affair. While there are some bands that sadly disappear off the face of the earth after an exciting debut, most will at least tackle the ‘difficult’ second album. Then of course comes the third album, which is usually looked to in anticipation of whether or not something different will emerge – and if not, we may start to wonder how much more of the same old thing we can listen to before it just gets old. Nowadays, most bands will call it day after that. Minus the Bear, however, are holding on in honour of your eardrums, and so are back with their fifth album.
Something about Infinity Overhead reminds me of my early teenage years when I melodramatically sat in skate-parks and thought ‘angst’ was the best word in the English language. Okay, maybe that was slightly melodramatic in itself, but there’s definitely a certain element of nostalgia here, as the band return to their comforting and familiar post-rock-meets-indie roots of the past. Collectively, it’s almost like an ode to the summer we never quite got, as it could easily be the soundtrack to a carefree summer night.
Opener ‘Steel and Blood’ throws you straight into a classic Minus the Bear listening experience with its unflinching guitar riff that, in spite of the haphazard electro-loops, maintains a frank musicality. ‘Lies and Eyes’ takes a ghostly dive into a darker, sombre contemplation of jealousy and deceit, whereas ‘Diamond Lightning’ is a poetic narrative of an acid trip, infused with romantic guitars and cosmic allusions before effortlessly flowing into ‘Toska’ and the rest of the record. Acoustic guitars make a jaunty re-appearance on ‘Listing’, whereas ‘Zeros’ seamlessly weaves synths and eery electro refrains beneath triumphant, fist-pumping guitar chords. Not one ounce of their energy is lost throughout, and by the time the volatile ‘Cold Company’ rounds things up, you can rest assured that these guys will be around for a little while longer, as the characteristic, hard-hitting vocals mesh with insistent guitars and destructive drumming.
There are bound to be those who listen to the record and rebuff it as a horrendously pointless attempt at a ‘greatest hits’. To a certain extent, it IS a ‘greatest hits’, but it’s also a whole lot more than that; carefully drawing on different moments of their musical era has led to a subtle transformation in their sound, an easier accessibility, but they keep the brash experimentation that we found so appealing all those years ago intact. Mostly rock, every so often effective electro, but always an exhilarating re-acquaintance, Infinity Overhead is a testament to why, five albums later, we ought to remain truly captivated with Minus The Bear.