Review Summary: Minus the B-Sides
As fans of music typically know, the prospect of b-sides and other unreleased material from bands is a tricky proposition: on the one hand, it’s exciting to enjoy new material that didn’t make a band’s official release, but on the other hand, it’s easy to see why the material was left off in the first place. Undeveloped ideas, weird experiments and overall underwhelming quality plague unreleased material, making a collection of such material a risky venture. Minus The Bear, now 13 years into their career, have reached the point where they can cash in on their own collection of odds & sods, aptly titled Lost Loves
, but is it a satisfying listen?
Leading the charge is “Electric Rainbow”, a b-side from arguably the band’s strongest effort Planet Of Ice
, and along with other b-sides from the album “Cat Calls & ill Means” and “Patiently Waiting”, are easily the album’s best cuts. More likely left off the album due to a stylistic choice rather than a lack of quality with the material, these songs could have easily appeared on a full-length Minus the Bear record in the past. “Cat Calls & ill Means” in particular is very interesting as it is unlike any song that the band has produced before, giving off a strong metal/punk vibe in the verses with a driving drum beat and distorted bass. “Patiently Waiting” takes in the exact opposite direction, featuring electronic drums and glockenspiels, creating a very spaced-out and laid-back feel.
The rest of the album comprises cuts from Omni
and Infinity Overhead
, and it’s with this material that we find some mixed results, which is unsurprising given that the albums themselves have been critically panned. Herky-jerky “Surf-N-Turf” struggles to find a good idea, while “South Side Life” lethargically crawls through the song’s four minute run time. On the other hand, “Broken China”, featuring a catchy lead guitar and strong chorus, might be the album’s best number and makes it hard to see how it never made Omni
in the first place. Finally, “Invented Memory”, “Your Private Sky” and new song “The Lucky Ones” are slower offerings that are successful in pacing and textures, but a little empty on substance.
While I’m sure most would disagree, I’m firmly in the camp of believing that Minus The Bear has never made a bad song. Sure, there have been some average tracks through-out the years, but I’ve never had the need to skip a song on any of their albums. This is something that Lost Loves
has going for it: while the songs certainly range from average to terrific, there’s no outright bad or unusual tracks to be found, making the album a worthwhile, enjoyable listen from front-to-back, which is something very rare for a collection of outtakes. I would certainly recommend Lost Loves
to fans of the band’s whole discography, but even those who thought that Planet Of Ice
was the last worthwhile outing will still get a kick out of the material here.