Released October 7, 2014 on Dangerbird Records
By now, people know what to expect from Seattle indie rockers Minus the Bear, and it would seem as though they always deliver. The thing is, they always deliver just that: the expected. Lost Loves is a collection of various B-sides and rarities from 2007 (two years after the release of their great Menos el Oso) given a bit of a spit-shine and re-branding. Minus the Bear prove that they’re still one of the most musically and vocally talented acts out there with some killer, classic MTB-sounding tracks full of sophisticated and impeccable musicianship, but lacking any real innovation or divergence from their norm.
This may be collection of B-sides, but any one of these tracks could easily be placed on any one of Minus the Bear’s records and no one would be the wiser. This band has found their niche, and they’ve tenaciously adhered themselves to it for the past eight years. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. In spite of its lack of any discernible separateness or that je ne sais quoi of b-sides that draws the admiration and elitism of fans, I’ve spun this record quite a few times since its release. I’m continually finding myself drawn to its clean vocals and grooving beats, though more so as background music than anything else. MTB knows exactly what works for them, and they excel at what they do. Intriguing time signatures and complex, bright melodies prove that these guys have the talent to make any kind of music they want, yet they choose to continually stick to the classic MTB sound. But that’s just fine; there are still some stellar tracks to be found on Lost Loves (pun? Probably).
“Invented Memory” (listen below via Spotify) is the Regina George in this ten-track clique being carried on the shoulders of its somewhat less popular cohorts. Beginning with vocalist Jake Snider’s query, “Do you remember when we were young yesterday?” this track starts softly with some slow, simple beats and minimal accompaniment, progresses through a quicker, beefier chorus culminating in a technically impressive guitar solo. “Invented Memory” showcases the band’s talent best of all by sprinkling in a little bit of each of the elements MTB is best known for. The more halcyon “Your Private Sky” and electronic, drum-heavy “Surf N Turf” and “Broken China” are the other highlight this amalgam of misplaced darlings. Not to mention, that album cover is pretty dope.
TL;DR: Solid collection of enjoyable b-sides, but nothing especially innovative.
Favorite Tracks: “Surf N Turf”, “Invented Memory”, “Your Private Sky”