Review Summary: One Big Particular Loop is a great record from a band that, once again, sounds as though they are just getting started.
It's no wonder that this band decided to change their name. Honestly. We’ve all heard of bands going through musical evolution and making crazy transitions before, but this is quite interesting. Oceana went straight from releasing an experimental post-hardcore album to putting out a half-assed indie jammer, and now they’ve returned as Polyenso with One Big Particular Loop
, a truly inspired collection of indie rock tunes (regardless of how apparent their source of inspiration is). It really just seems that with each release the band put out following their debut, Polyenso have been exploring new musical ideas and influences, with One Big Particular Loop
just being the next destination on the map.
On One Big Particular Loop
, far less emphasis is put on the aggressive nature of the instruments, and a little more is being placed into areas such as atmosphere and consistency. The band removes the idea of any major guitar distortions, allowing every instrument to blend together in a completely new fashion. The production here is just what the album needs, but nothing all that out of the ordinary in comparison to Polyenso’s other works with the exception of the rather forgettable debut The Tide
, which could more easily than not be viewed as rather disappointing. It’s unfortunate that the band really missed a good opportunity to make some remarkable standout tracks that would have really grabbed a listener’s attention. Still, every track here still bears a sense of diversity that separates them from one another, allowing the album to retain a consistent level of enjoyment throughout.
Keep in mind, however, that being an inspired band can have potential downsides, some of which are present on One Big Particular Loop
. For example, one can only have so much inspiration in their music before it begins to replace originality. Of course, it's fairly obvious that the band has begun admire alt-rock legends Radiohead to a point where it's almost impossible to go unnoticed on One Big Particular Loop
. Brennan Taulbee’s vocals are extremely reminiscent of Yorke’s distinct vibrato and falsetto. And let's face it, Polyenso isn’t exactly the first post-hardcore band that tried shaking things up a bit. One of today’s most well-known examples is Thrice, an influential post-hardcore band whose journey into experimentation began with the release of their 2005 “classic”, Vheissu, and continued throughout the remainder of their career. Now, whether or not Polyenso were really just following a trend set by the bigger post-hardcore acts is up for the listener to decide, but one thing is for certain, and that is that the group could potentially be at risk of failing miserably. They’ve basically dug themselves into a hole that, if they can’t make a home of it, they won’t be able to climb out of. Not easily, anyway.
But when it all comes down to it, is it really such a bad thing if the music ends up sounding as great as it does? Let’s forget about the future for a minute and look at what we were given, and what we were given is really just a bundle of legitimately fun tracks that nobody in 2008 would have, or even could have, suspected Oceana had the ability to produce. And while there might not be any true stand out tracks here (with the exception of “Pocket Soul”, a track that could easily be considered single material), One Big Particular Loop
never loses focus. Polyenso are obviously determined here, keeping true to their new sound every step of the way and never missing a beat. To keep things simple, I’ll just say that if you are into this type of music, you will enjoy it on some level from start to finish, no doubt about it.
So, I guess I should rephrase my original statement: we have indeed seen bands make drastic changes to their sound in the past; it’s a rare occasion such as this, however, that we see signs of maturity pop up so abruptly. Maybe one day Polyenso will find themselves settling into a sweet spot with their music, a spot where they can sit down and really define their signature sound (and what a day that will be). For now though, we have One Big Particular Loop
, which is a great record from a genre that, more often than not, only gets the attention it deserves from the bigger names.