The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Minus the Bear equals perfection

When I was 18, the whole world was in front of me. I was the wide-eyed idealistic little jerk who everybody makes fun of. I spent my last pre-college summer saying tearful goodbyes to my friends and my hometown, anxiously awaiting the onslaught of August so I could start school.

Like everybody else, I arrived at college with the lame and uneasy pressure of making new friends. Luckily though, it didn’t take too long to find some like-minded cool people. And by the time my birthday came in October we’d become good enough friends for me to get a birthday present: tickets to see Minus the Bear at The Cavern.

After I got back from one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, I immediately began to wonder, “What is this band going to do next?” Little did I know I’d have to wait another two long years for an answer, but finally one came this week with Minus the Bear’s release of “Planet of Ice.”

While most people might not know the band, much less understand its seemingly odd name (code for a sex act I’d get fired for typing), “Planet of Ice” is more than enough to get them noticed. As far as songwriting is concerned, Minus the Bear have never been more ahead of the rest. Incredibly original in its structuring, the album explores totally new avenues of what a catchy pop-rock song should sound like without becoming unbearably strange (no pun intended).

Almost as impressive as the songwriting, though, is the incredible amount of thought that was put into making the record. Obviously unsatisfied with putting out an album identical to its predecessor, “Menos El Oso,” Minus the Bear travel what seems like light years away from their old sound. Guitar solos writhe with stress as if every note threatens to collapse. Rock-outs recall Pink Floyd acid trips or the sharp and spacey ghost guitars of prog-rock’s past. And for the first time ever, only one song on their album mentions any kind of body of water.

The album is definitely a “grower,” though. And a big part of why that is can be found in the overlying concept of the album. Establishing early on a mood both dark and epic in its own unique way, “Planet of Ice” at times seems like it’s in a totally different galaxy. Guitarist Dave Knudson experiments with “Dark Side of the Moon”-influenced spacey riffs, unhinged guitar tone and songs that threaten to explode at any second.

What’s truly jaw dropping about this though isn’t the experimentation itself; it’s Minus the Bear’s ability to control their own chaos. Only once (on the album closer “Lotus”) do the group’s ambitions dig them into a difficult hole to climb out of. But even that is forgivable, especially when considering the band has crafted a near perfect album, and finally nailed its sound with precision that most artists never achieve.

Awesomely innovative, surprisingly catchy and impressively mature, “Planet of Ice” is essentially Minus the Bear at the best they’ve ever been. So maybe there was some knowledge in my teenage philosophy of “having the world in front me.” After all, there’s plenty of time for Minus the Bear to blow my mind all over again. But now I really have to know: What else can they possibly do next?

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