Review Summary: While most of the tracks on Minus The Bear's debut EP generate more of a medium-watt glow than a stunning beacon of light, they establish the roots of the band's sound and offer an unburdened, chilled out, and accessible listen.
Minus The Bear may have grown up and 'matured' over the last few years of their career, but their philosophy has always remained the same: Live for the moment, and let the good times roll. Since their first tobacco-filled breath, the band have always tried their best to not really give a *** about anything other than having loads of spur-of-the-moment fun. Breaking the law, consuming unholy amounts of alcohol, getting laid by strangers, smoking themselves into an early grave, nowhere is this carefree attitude to life more obvious than on their debut album - 'This is What I Know About Being Gigantic'.
There are 7 tracks on this EP, despite the tracklisting only mentioning 5, those 5 all labelled with the oddly hilarious titles MTB are known for, such as the first track 'Hey, Wanna Throw Up" Get Me Naked'. Nice. Muddy guitars open the gates of the album, giving way to the line “Let's get the *** outta here. It's like a congregation.” The lead guitar taps a light, catchy melody, and the song trails off its own tangent, unbound by simple structure. Ebbing and flowing throughout various riffs and rhythms, the song closes to the line of 'I got somewhere else to be', and they're off on another adventure with 'Lemurs, Man, Lemurs'. The lyrics mainly consist of the singers affection for a girl rolling up, while the guitars slide in and out of alternating tapped riffs, the sludgy bass keeping the elements stuck together, and it's all really... cool. In the schoolyard sense of the word. This is the type of music you want to play to people when driving, then cheekily grin as you slyly check the rear-view mirror to see them nodding their heads in approval. The lyrics only tell stories of sex, drugs, alcohol and good times, told by Jake Snider's bored-but-not-boring voice, and there's a stylish gauntness to the guitar melodies, a weightlessness to the atmosphere produced, that gives off a vibe so 'cool' it belongs in Sub-Zero's icicle-filled record cabinet labelled under 'favourite albums'.
'Just Kickin' It Like A Wild Donkey' is mega-trendy. The verses are filled with more unstressed tapping, and drift into a jaunty bridge. The chorus plays out an incredibly catchy and intense line - “She's got on some good jeans. No-one sitting round here can put down their drinks”. The pounded drums and beaten guitars firmly etch the words into the forefront of your lyric bank. The penultimate track 'Potato Juice and Liquid Bread' is the third and final voiceless track, more effect laden guitars peeking through eerie ambience and a solid drum backdrop. The song outstays its welcome by a long way, reaching 5 minutes, which would be OK if the music was decent, but it's not that great, it's fairly boring and a chore to reach the end. The album finishes incredibly strongly though, to the tune of 'Pantsuit...Uggghhh'. Tales of beautiful girls and drinking till the morning are joined by lazy-day melodies and plodding percussion, when suddenly the song has a bucket of cold water thrown over it's head. “No-one sleeps yet, let's keep it going till the morning” are the appropriate lyrics to ignite an increasingly intense, fun atmosphere. The drums are hit harder and more creatively, while the tapped riffs become choppier and the melodies silkier. Eventually, the album hits maximum capacity, and stumbles drunkenly, but happily home, quietly slipping into bed.
One of the best things about the album is it's ability to perfectly match the vocals with the lyrics, the lyrics with the music, and the music with the vocals. Everything about it fits, and it's something the band has managed to keep with them for their entire career. The record isn't brilliant though, the production is slightly shoddy, the instrumental tracks are pretty tedious, and most of the tracks give off more of a medium-watt glow than a stunning beacon of light. But, as a debut, it is notably impressive. Concerned only about having a good time, the band has intelligently weaved an intimacy, warmth and companionship into their sound, the type that comes with friends just wanting to live life without worries and responsibilities, and live it to the full. It's that part of Minus The Bear which makes them so charming, and while they may be heading into new directions now, it would be a crime on their part to forget the times where the only things that mattered were getting drunk with friends, and picking up beautiful, dangerous girls.