While Minus The Bear have never been an enormous force outside of the underground, the impact they’ve had on math-rock (and with guitarist Dave Knudson’s previous role in Botch, progressive music in general) can’t be ignored, and the number of bands they’ve influenced over the years is notable indeed. Even for someone who isn’t a diehard fan then, it’s still worth keeping in mind the loss that will come with their imminent breakup, and a career that their final EP Fair Enough attempts to wrap up as best as it can.
The strange thing is though, for anyone looking for a good jumping-off point for Minus The Bear, this is probably the best recommendation that can be offered, as it’s easily one of their more undemanding and borderline accessible releases to date. The tenuous melodies and tippy-tappy frills are almost completely absent, replaced by indie-rock that’s so close to being conventional, but with enough layered, wriggling intricacies to keep it interesting. There isn’t a lot here to really make use of that – only three tracks and a remix – but as a parting gift, Fair Enough continues to see Minus The Bear testing and readjusting their own formula, to frequently strong results.
The main factor of that is how surprisingly wistful and final these tracks actually feel. There’s a particular suppleness to the title track in Jake Snider’s vocals and how worn down they feel against the careening synths and detailed, delicate drum fills, while Viaduct glimmers and sparkles with the liquid tones making for a particularly cinematic atmosphere. Even if it’s not as fiddly as it once was, the attention to detail is fantastic, and even on a track like Dinosaur that feels like more of a mainstream pivot in the regimented synths and generally more upbeat tone, Minus The Bear excel at construction of a song regardless of its form. The only outlier is, unsurprisingly, the remix of Invisible from the 2017 album Voids, and while Sonbear does a fine enough job at cutting some of the sharper edges off and feeding in the electronics to match the overall sound of the EP’s other tracks, it’s unavoidable how much of an afterthought it feels, and for their final release, it screams of Minus The Bear looking for something else to bulk out the package rather than doing it themselves.
Still, Fair Enough’s sense of finality is what really makes it shine, taking this short package that easily could’ve been a hasty final job and making it something for Minus The Bear fans to really enjoy. It lacks the exceptionality that made their more seminal material as influential as it was, but that was never meant to be the case with this one. Rather, it’s one final piece to round off a truly remarkable career, and as far as that goes, this more than suffices.
For fans of: Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro, Cursive
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Fair Enough’ by Minus The Bear is released on 19th October on Suicide Squeeze.