Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reviews:: Polynya

Polynya, according to wikipedia, is "any non-linear area of open water surrounded by sea ice. It is now used as geographical term for areas of sea in Arctic or Antarctic regions which remain unfrozen for much of the year." If that doesn't sum up this Chapel Hill quintet, well, actually I have no idea what this means. So to get a better idea, I contacted meteorologist Brick Tamlin for a better explanation and he said - "Where'd you get those pants? At the... toilet... store?"

Polynya is actually a tight-as-a-drum, smoothed out art rock experience that relies on flowing grooves and boy/girl vocals. The jangle of electric guitar and driving synth riffs make this pop experiment incredibly easy to settle into, as the band uses gentle, understated vocals and a collection of enjoyable instrumentation. At times, it reminds me of Electrelane, but instead of the angry, cold, banged out synths, Polynya opts for warmer sounds that well... melt a hole through the ice.

The record moves at a fairly consistent tempo, which adds a bit of sames-y blend, but it works for these guys. It's the type of record a fan enjoys, but us lazy critics hate. I found myself having to consistently check the track listings and check ITunes to see the name of the song (or if it was a new song), but from an enjoyment point of view, I found it easy to let the disc loop over itself as I worked away.

There are lots of standouts. Tarantula for example starts with a nice bass line, and as the pulsing synths and double vocal lines start, you can't help but groove along. The band keeps the vocals to the minimum on this track and the extended outro is extremely tight (and the pseudo Six-Million Dollar man effect is a nice touch).

Despite the monotony of office life, Cubicle is one of the most exciting tracks on this record. The bass line moves and the guitar noodling/synth swells are catchy as hell. Essay Persson sees the band use a big kick drum and some fantasy laced guitar textures to make you nod your head.

The hard part about reviewing Polynya, is that most of the songs use the same recipe and trigger the same result. For me, the recipe works so the disc is a great listen, but the diversity is subtle. Aside from change of pace tracks like the guitar strutting Black Cherry and Right Brain, Polynya plays to their strengths. Paper Planes breaks away from the warmer sounds and relies on a swirling, chaotic sound, and Cardboard uses some more dominant drums and a nice piano line, but for the majority of people these tracks might blend together. Even the robotic army fight intro of Sweatshop quickly jumps back into the same pace (albeit with more fuzzed out guitars and sing/screamed vocals that sound solid). But to be honest I say, if it ain't broke, why fix it? I can happily throw this record on and enjoy the sounds from start to finish.
MP3:: Cubicle

web site :: myspace

Posted at 2:11 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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