Review Summary: This short and sweet EP, while only two songs long, shows the boys from Seattle at the top of their game. The new album should be great.
Minus the Bear have always been sexy. Ever since their debut in 2001, Jake Snider and co. have been churning out solid album after solid album. Their stoner indie rock gives off a great vibe, one with wailing guitars, some soulful vocals, and a somewhat playful attitude (some song titles off of Highly Refined Pirates were quotes from Starship Troopers). Planet Of Ice showed a slightly more progressive approach, leaning towards some unconventional songwriting ('Lotus') while still maintaing a catchy, seductive energy, thus making their strongest release to date. Their new EP, Into The Mirror shows the band expanding upon what made Planet Of Ice so great with catchy synths, awesome guitar parts, and ethereal lyrics. A stoner rock epic is not beyond them.
Both songs on "Into The Mirror" are a great addition to Minus the Bear's library. The title track starts smooth and never hits a bump in the road. The guitars are top notch again, with Dave Knudson's bluesy wails that sounds almost all over the place at first, but eventually becomes the focal point of the song. Snider's singing is fine, even if a little repetitive at times. The female vocal interlude (sung by Rachel Flotard of Visqueen) in the middle is a nice touch and adds a little variety to Minus the Bear's weakest attribute. The lyrics, while not exactly poetic, fit with the music well with lines like "the man on the couch in the blue room, with everyone stoned and talking at once". Everything here points to a night on the town, looking up into the sky with your lover and soaking it all in.
As solid as 'Into the Mirror' is, the song that shows further progression of their sound from Planet Of Ice has to be 'Broken China'. Everything Minus the Bear does well is amplified in this song, ending with an odd outro similar to 'Lotus' in structure. This is the song that is probably most representative of the new album. The change in guitar in the beginning verse is fantastic, and the chorus is about as close as you're going to get to headbanging to a Minus the Bear song.
All in all, this short and sweet EP doesn't offer much new, but it is a great middle ground between what is sure to be their two best albums. It has this great energy to it and shows these boys from Seattle are willing to explore, which is always a great thing. The vocals aren't too interesting (void Flotard's part) but the music more than makes up for it. Anybody looking for a slice of top notch Minus the Bear and absolutely can't wait for the new album, check this out.