Polvo: Siberia (Merge Records)
CD / DL / LP
Out 30th October
Polvo Return! Merge Records veterans remain ahead of the pack with their off-kilter grunge sound.
Polvo are back. And then some. After 2009s great reunion record “In Prism”, one of Merge’s longest- serving acts are back with a brand new album of their inimitable wonky guitar proggy low fi loveliness.
“A lot of the songs on this album were not rehearsed much at all. I’d like to think this album has a few more adventurous moments”…
…explains founding guitarist Ash Bowie. Interestingly, Polvo are an interesting band in that they sound like they either practise an awful lot or hardly at all. Complicated time signatures, meandering guitar interplay and off kilter rhythms combine to have, in places, a slightly improvised, feel whereas in other, totally tight musicianship.
Whilst Polvo are never going to write a 4/4 pop song, their melodies, especially vocal lines, are wonderfully hooky and have a knack of rattling around your head for days. Opening track “TotaI Immersion” is a perfect example, with its uplifting choral backing harmonies. All the signature Polvo moves as referenced in this 6 minute opening salvo.
Other stand out tracks on the album are “Light Raking” with its almost summery keyboard runs and the shimmering guitars on “Old Maps”. Essentially Polvo are one of those bands who you can still play an album the whole way through and enjoy the slightly strange wobbly ride rather than picking out a couple of instant easy riffs that will run their course after a couple of plays. I love all of the Polvo back catalogue, and I love the fact they are pretty incomparable (Chuck Pavement, Truman’s Water, Captain Beefheart, Sonic Youth and Eastern influenced Prog into a blender you might be 25% of the way there) but for the uninitiated I’d recommend “Cor Crane Secret”, and 2009’s “In Prism”.
All words by Peter Campbell. More of Peter’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.