A Gas Regardless
Minus the Bear: Highly Refined Robots (Suicide Squeeze)

For the last two weeks, I've been hung up on something completely unexpected. What I mean to say is that I've been obsessed with something I never anticipated. What I mean to say is... oh, fuck it. Let's just be forthright:

I'm in love with Minus the Bear.

The bulk of my life is spent gleefully traipsing along a rut of pop music. Mostly, all I want to hear is jangle, picked nylon strings, orchestral swells and gentle sighs. Those things make me feel sated, elated, alive. I've no need for volume and all that.

But sometimes I come across something brimming with all the elements I usually detest in music, and there is some quality - or set of qualities - that just leap out and wrap around me like a kindly, multi-appendaged sea monster.

See what I'm saying? That sea life simile only confirms my Minus the Bear obsession. Aquatic references run rampant on their new record, Highly Refined Pirates. The influence of their lyrics, like the embrace of our hypothetical sea monster, is inescapable. Each syllable is like déjö vu: alcohol, oceans, the loneliness of distance and futile stabs at reckless abandonment. I often feel as if someone nicked the manuscript to my autobiography and set it to music.

"We've got to get something to eat and to drink yeah, and find a place to stay that's not far off the main way- we've got to plan our day: Rodan and the Orsay, and find a way to cram it all in before we drink hard again." (from 'Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse')

It's all revelry, sure, but it's a gas regardless.

The music's all angular jags, fingertaps, softloudsoft - a combination of elements that that can be, if improperly mixed and poorly played, disastrous. Thankfully, Minus the Bear are able to continually leap over and even go so far as to detonate the sonic land mines that lesser bands of their ilk scamper across unawares for the entire stretch of their career.

New procurements to my record collection include works by Foxgloves, Hidden Cameras and the second Nuggets box set - all works that are infinitely more pop and thus more indicative of my usual tastes. But Highly Refined Pirates is the record that has been seeing the most action, proof that the least expected things often spur the most profound reactions.

© 2003 Michael Seidel