Minus the Bear – Voids (3 stars)

Minus the Bear – Voids

The sixth album from Seattle's indie rockers is a testament to their creativity

When you think of Seattle, your mind most likely conjures up images of Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell and other archetypes of 90s grunge. But the city has also been a haven of sorts for indie bands in the new millennium, thanks in part to a shifting focus from the angst and heavy distortion of grunge to the dreamy and comparatively halcyon sounds of American indie. Minus the Bear may be a product of that shift, but in a 15-year history, their music has remained somewhat independent of the conventional output that Seattle has become associated with.

The opening tracks of Voids illustrate this perfectly, going from the unanticipated pop-heavy chorus of 'Last Kiss' to the off-kilter rhythms of 'Give & Take', a more signature Minus the Bear move. Guitar lines are particularly strong throughout the album, as seen in the more serene 'Call the Cops', where guitar intricacies draw out the vocal melody's simplicity. There's a similar effect in 'Invisible', but the competition between guitar and voice is more distinctive, leading to an explosive chorus where Jake Snider's vocals ultimately triumph.

Minus the Bear are known for their use of electronics, fluidity of rhythm and ability to build atmosphere, aspects that have always set them apart from their indie-rock peers. Final track 'Lighthouse' is a reminder of this, with its cacophonous instrumental crescendo providing a playful finale to their many tonal experiments.

With each release, the band have succeeded in renewing their sound in a way that illustrates a penchant for experimentation and genre defiance. Album number six, Voids, does not quite serve as the tabula rasa which is perhaps intended, but in retaining the elements that are characteristic of their musical landscape, it reinforces the band's many strengths, drawing attention to a collective drive for progress.

Out Fri 3 Mar