Review Summary: Polar Bear Club have created an incredibly artistic and hard-hitting punk album that shows plenty of taste and sensibility.
After releasing their delightfully Seinfeldian titled EP, The Summer of George
, earlier this year, I knew that this band’s sophomore effort would be something to be praised. Although The Summer of George
only sported three songs, I listened to them non-stop, as the enthusiastic punk mentality and pop-punk melodies had me hooked and coming back for more. Does Chasing Hamburg
deliver the goods that The Summer of George
proves to be a very strong effort with very few flaws. The albums opener, “See The Wind,” shows appropriately what those should expect from the band: bouncing riffs that boarder between straightforward punk and heavier hardcore, simple leads that give a perfect melodic touch, and unique, half-growling vocals that fits the music like a glove. This song in particular shows off the band’s ability to create a completely breathable, unrestricted song structure while still maintaining a heavy groove from the rhythm section and a strong sense of melody from the lead guitar and vocals.
The entire album as a whole features incredibly unique and catchy compositions. “Living Saints” and “Light of Local Eyes” feature busy rhythm guitar riffs in the verses before bursting into some very catchy choruses. “Boxes” and “One Hit Back” are more straight-forward punk songs, but still carry heavy instances of melody. “Drifting Thing” and “Chasing Hamburg” are both slower songs, but still carry catchy hooks and tasteful guitar lines. In fact, nearly every song sports a barrage of melodies and stop-start riffs, but also takes several time-outs to showcase a softer side, which turns out to be an incredibly infectious blend. There are plenty of peaks and valleys to be found in every song, yet every song feels very coherent, natural, focused and punctual.
Another unique thing about the band comes courtesy of Jimmy Stadt, whose vocal performance is nothing short of outstanding. When the music is chugging along, Jimmy sports a gritty, gurgling vocal style, but when the music changes gears and becomes more melodic and open, Mr. Stadt busts out a singing voice that is surprisingly pleasant. It’s truly is one of those instances where it’s hard to believe that one guy can sing in two unique ways. His vocal style is showcased on “Drifting Thing”, where Jimmy flawlessly switches between both styles from line to line. Hell, he even switches seamlessly in mid-sentence
on some lines. It’s very cool, very unique, and very fitting of the music.
And there are plenty of other enjoyable qualities about the album. For one, the gang-vocals attribute to the already strong sense of melody to counteract the edgy guitar riffs. The Matt Bayles production is as solid as ever, with a crisp production that sill maintains plenty of bottom end, and he even contributes some of his keyboard talents to various songs. Finally, all the songs flow fantastically into one another, making the entire album an enjoyable listen from start to finish.
With Chasing Hamburg
, Polar Bear Club has created an incredibly artistic and hard-hitting punk album that shows plenty of taste and sensibility, and it will be very exciting to see where their promising career goes from here.