Planet of Ice is one of my favorite indie albums. It saw Minus the Bear perfect their immersive, depthful, and engaging sound, and also showcased the band’s compactness as a group. The main problem, however, was that, since both Planet of Ice and 2005’s Menos El Oso were reputable records, the pressure was on to create a satisfying follow-up. And it’s quite obvious that Omni doesn’t possess as many stellar, standout qualities as the band’s previous release. But the enticing direction and elaborate tightness of Omni still make it worthwhile.
The instrumental direction and progression demonstrated by Minus the Bear makes Omni respectable (in addition to the fact that the album was recorded in the style of a live show). The band’s extremely detailed indie rock approach treks into more energetic territory throughout the record, exemplified in tracks such as “Secret Country” and “Hold Me Down.” Guitars loom at the very crest of the album’s atmosphere, throwing out captivating, fresh riffage and pushing the songs forward in a very nonchalant manner. Just as before, the lyrical department does nothing but impress, stringing together a compact group of substantive, well-imagined thoughts.
Though the guys often display a faster, more upbeat tempo on Omni, it’s their alternative indie stylization that tends to be the most controlling. The album’s smooth environment makes it easy to submerge into. As far as composition and production is concerned, Minus the Bear continue to prove that they’re on top of their game. The synth-heavy electronic elements found in tracks like opener “My Time” and “The Thief” mold caution and relentlessness into a single entity. Jake Snider’s vocals fit snugly around the instrumentation and electronics, continuing to remind listeners of why he’s one of the best singers in indie rock today. On Omni, he completes the album’s oft-ambient musical atmosphere with his chilling, organic charm.
One thing that seems to be most apparent with Omni, however, is that it lacks that certain touch that made Planet of Ice such an incredible record. The songs possess juicy, rich depth and Minus the Bear’s typically nice textures are presented in fashion, but the album as an entity isn’t quite as easy to get lost in – and I’m sure that longtime fans of the band may probably agree.
But even with that flaw, Omni is a lustrous record. It’s full of tracks that are just as captivating as some of the band’s past material; it’s also full of passable tracks that just lack that creative edge and sort of come off as kitsch. But it’s undeniable that the band succeeded in following up Planet of Ice in maybe the best way that they possibly could, and that’s evident by the band’s progressive mindset and Omni’s sonically-induced, wavy atmosphere. Though it won’t be remembered as Minus the Bear’s shining star, Omni remains a noteworthy release and a solid addition to the band’s catalogue.