Review Summary: If this compilation had been cut by 4 or 5 tracks it would be a near fantastic album. There are songs here that are pure genius, and some that are merely passable. If you are a fan of Polysics, a fan of 80’s synth music like Kraftwerk or Devo, or just l
Polysics Or Die!!! is in fact a compilation of older songs and re-recordings of older songs. The album is 18 tracks long, so I won’t bother with a detailed track by track review, but I’ll give an account of the overall album and some reviews of the stand-out tracks.
This is the kind of album that starts well, but due to its length veers off towards the end. The intro ‘Buggie Techinica’ is a good introduction to Polysics style, throwing in the synth keyboards, the spazzy guitars and the vocoder vocals. It moves through several different parts without a verse-chorus structure. A good start to the album.
The next couple of songs work well, Hot Stuff having a catchy vocal line and unpredictable synth and bass lines. New Wave Jacket follows, and this is where the cutesy vocals of the two female singers come into play. They have great voices and it’s hard not to smile when they sing. This is a very upbeat, happy song. Like Hot Stuff, this has some nice surf guitar riffs. Plus Chicker is up next, and this song has some nice synth parts in it, but the overall structure gets tiring after a while, and the lead vocals can be a bit repetitive. Nothing that special.
Which brings us to the only single of the album. If you’d heard Polysics before Now Is The Time, it probably would have been this song. It starts with a fairly retro synth part before crashing into a bouncy riff. The male vocals here are particularly noteworthy, with restrained verses and a spazzy screeching chorus of ‘KAJA KAJA GAAA!!!’. Nope, I don’t know what it means either, but it’s great.
Next up is my favourite song of the album and possibly one of my favourite songs ever, so forgive me if this next paragraph is a little bias. Black Out Fall Out is 4 minutes of happy pop synth genius. This song has so many layers; it’s hard not to just smile when you hear it. Unlike many of their other songs, this is fairly restrained, shying away from the sporadic use of keyboards and sticking to a more traditional structure, but being all the better for it. There’s a very poignant atmosphere to the song, despite being half in Japanese and half in nonsensical English -it makes no sense, yet it feels like it has a deeper meaning which we just can’t access. Proof that lyrics aren’t important in creating an emotional song.
Next up is a great re-working of My Sharona, using synth and robot-like vocoder vocals. Following we arrive at the poorer side of the album. Makin Sense is another more restrained song, building up slowly with the various instruments, but overall nothing special. Lookin Lookin Gaa is another song that uses the cutesy female vocals, and is quite a nice happy pop song.
Commodoll has a great distorted bass line, and English lyrics which you can just tell are trying to be deep but fail in translation: ‘What is sad, what is it/ What is sad, I don’t know’. The chorus is catchy though, being sung in a low vocoder key, with the synthesiser giving a nice backing. There’s nothing that special about the next 4 tracks, being pretty generic synth rock songs. CODE 4 has a nice build, and catchy repetitive robotic singing. Another instance of Polysics invoking an emotional level using atmosphere. Three more tracks follow on, with nothing really to stand out, which means the album ends on a bit of a downer.