Review Summary: Pollyanna hit me, it hit me hard. Seemingly materializing out of nowhere, was Pollyanna simply a testament to the ability of the right album hitting you in the right place at the right time?
... or is it the classic album that I'll always hold personal to me?
Well, out of shuffle on my Ipod if you want to be specific about the origin of Northstar in relation to me. Sitting on my roof at 3 in the morning and shallowly wallowing in my apathy as I smoked my penultimate cigar wasn’t bringing me contentment, but what was about to grace my lucky ears definitely would.
Let me give you a little background. This was a defining musical period for me, not to mention a defining personal period. To make a short story shorter, everything I cared about was either slowly waning away or stabbing me in my tired back, and I felt solitarily confined to the few pleasures that were stable and brought me a ephemeral sense of contentment, the most poignant of these being music. My taste soon developed from the smooth croons of Anthony Keidis and Julian Casablancas to the spidery warble of Elliott Smith and the angst of Jesse Lacey. I found empathy in their voices, and our common misfortune seemed all too familiar. As I soon learned, apathy is an ugly type of monster. It closes you off from your surroundings as you begin to fall through the floor in a pool of quicksand, and in my case one of misfortune and misery. Struggle, and you only make things harder on yourself, I found. As I was exploring outlets for my emotions, I luckily stumbled upon a gem that would subtly changed the course of my psyche.
Northstar - Pollyanna
the song read. As I sat there in silence, it was literally the only thing that had brought a genuine smile to my face. Dramatic, I know, but it was a very dramatic time in my life. Anyways, Northstar defied most of the conventions that I held about music. I was growing into more complex music (well, if you count The Mars Volta as complex), more depressing and somber things (Elliott Smith, Sunny Day Real Estate), and I was so taken aback that such seemingly simple music (I mean pop-punk?! really?!) could affect me so deeply. I was immediately riveted by pure emotion and smooth delivery in the lines sung by Nick Torres,
“So this is how it ends, toxic and deliberate
She's blood red at the neck boiling off fingerprints
This hospital love is making death seem elegant
‘Just don't breathe and we'll stop time’
that’s all it took, not years of listening, just a few lines and the impact was felt- all it took for me to know this was going to be a colossal effect on my life. Everywhere I went, everything I did, there was Pollyanna
. Singing to myself in the car was the spectacular chorus, “You look so lovely, running through my fingers, running through my fingers,”
from “Pollyanna,” or “And I’ll be the reason, you’ll leave this city,”
off of “The Pornographer’s Daughter.” What’s that playing in my ear as my feet pound on the ground during a midnight run? Lo and behold, it’s the, “You move like I’ve, got new feet,”
off of immense opener, “For Members Only.” It amazed me that such simplistic music could have such an effect on me, and after the initial reaction of refusing to believe it, I let the it in. I let in the guitar-driven band from Alabama. I gave their catchy sex-infused lyrics a major chance. The pop-punk done right on Pollyanna infiltrated every facet of my life. Instead of giving me a reason to mope around contemplating my existence, I was care-free when listening to “American Living.” I’m completely aware now (and was then, actually) how completely cliche and even intensely shallow this realization is, but I couldn’t help that Pollyanna
had such an unexpected effect on me. The titanic choruses and powerful drumming gave me infinite amounts of energy. The dark, catchy one-liners gave me a little smirk here or there. Yes, Pollyanna
and Northstar were big contributors to contemporaries like Taking Back Sunday, but my infatuation had nothing to do with this kind of merit. In retrospect, their sound is relatively generic. Catchy choruses, snotty vocal delivery, or strong guitar riffs weren’t the most experimental thing to hit the music scene.
It’s hard to declare what exactly hit me that one night on the roof and the subsequent fascination with Northstar. I know I’ll never quite be able to put my finger on what makes this record so special to me, but I feel pretty confident chalking one up to delivery. This will always be one of the most sincere sounds I’ve ever heard, and incredibly consistent, too. With the exception of “Digital Me,” there’s not one song on here I don’t feel a personal connection to, which is an amazing feat and reserved for only the most moving of records. I realize this is by no means an objective “classic” record, I’m absolutely fine with that, it doesn’t need to be, but I refuse to believe the intense feelings that Pollyanna
has given me over years of sadness and subsequent recovery from aforementioned situation stops at me. Whether it’s simply the expressive, sincere nature of this record that gets me every time, or the incredible accessibleness of every song, or perhaps it’s because “Two Zero Two” is simply one of the best songs ever written, but there’s definitely something special about Pollyanna
Who knows? Possibly it was simply the right record at the right time in the right place?- but I’d rather believe I truly discovered something special that defining night alone on my roof on a chilly night.