Minus the Bear - They Make Beer Commercials Like This [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Minus the Bear

They Make Beer Commercials Like This [reissue] (2008)

Suicide Squeeze

While the careful intricacy and relaxed instrumentation of 2002's Highly Refined Pirates proved to be a long-lasting favorite and introductory run for Minus the Bear fans, the band's 2004 EP, They Make Beer Commercials Like This, was what originally roped me into the band.

Since its release, MTB has rarely written as big of a chorus as those found on the first two tracks, "Fine + 2 Pts" and "Let's Play Clowns." When Jake Snider kicks in singing, "It's rare to feel this expensive," the feeling matches the name of the label that originally released the EP -- in a really good way. However, the other songs slouch only in tempo and not necessarily in quality; with repeated listening, "I'm Totally Not Down with Rob's Alien" becomes a sauntering and mesmerizing number, sparking the mindset of relaxation and carefree vibes that largely set the foundation for Menos el Oso.

With the band's fanbase continuing to increase and their popularity among the indie community at a stark high, Suicide Squeeze has reissued the EP, which originally appeared on Arena Rock Recordings. They've remastered all the songs and added a bonus track, "Houston, We Have Uh-Oh," leaving the original artwork intact.

Unfortunately, the remaster seems to hurt the dynamic slightly (I find remasters tend to do this quite a bit, oddly enough), though everything is certainly louder. This is most apparent in the verse-chorus transition in the two aforementioned songs with the huge choruses, but the remaster works finely when the band dip into more restrained territory later on the EP, a mood that would lay the groundwork for future full-lengths. As well, you can really feel the fuzz of Matt Bayles' keyboard fizzle and the guitars dance and twinkle in good headphones.

"Houston, We Have Uh-Oh" also makes for a bit more conclusive of a finale than "Pony Up!" and its abrupt ending had. Snider's repetitive yelp of "Sometimes you're really alone" and additional vacation-style lyrics make it a solid fit, while the soft collision of instruments feels more active than most of Beer Commercials' makeup.

Overall, this reissue is pretty decent. It's hard to say it's worth a repurchase for those who already own the original, but this is certainly good enough on its own to warrant a buy if you never had it in the first place.