Minus The Bear, Planet of Ice

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

This Seattle quintet draws from so many genres that someone reading phrases often used to describe them like “post-rock,” “prog-rock” or even “math-rock” might understandably expect something academic or at least noncommittal. To the contrary, Minus the Bear has a sound and sticks to it, one that abandons the confines of those sources through the force of a propulsive rhythm section, a guitarist unafraid to flex chops rarely associated with indie rock and an introverted singer who's gradually asserting more of himself in the context of a band defined by its highly interactive group dynamic.

Seattle quintet brings a little sensuality to their prog.

The band's third full-length album and first with keyboardist Alex Rose represents a further refinement, not a break from its previous releases. Bassist Cory Murchy and drummer Erin Tate still interlock their rhythms in a way that welcomes dancing even when tricky time signatures and sudden shifts threaten to trip up the feet. Guitarist Dave Knudson continues to construct dense layers of intricate riffs, and singer Jake Snider keeps rising to his bandmates'instrumental challenge with more recognizably personal lyrics about love and lust and loss. As a result of his growth, there's a newfound sensuality to Planet of Ice that enriches what was already restless and explosive. This is the work of a rare contemporary band that could make sense to both Death Cab For Cutie fans and their King Crimson-lovin'parents.