Review Summary: Discount noodles.
It is difficult to be completely opposed to Polyphia's current rhetoric: melodic, technical fretboard aerobics over a modern timbre is a formula for success and it isn't hard to see why. People love the spectacle of unattainable skill on full display but more than that, people love feeling comfy. It should be of little surprise that this is the hole Polyphia finds themselves in with The Most Hated
as the band has been on a smooth trajectory towards blatant pandering for a long time now. Even if their quest to the Land of Progressive Stardom is one laden with all the trappings of a hearty, jazz-infused prog troupe narrative, it would seem the forces of conformity have proven a little too impenetrable for our heroes to stay the path. Polyphia's latest venture might hold the same addictive nature as your favourite brand of carbohydrate soup but at the end of the day, there isn't much sustenance to be found in these discount noodles.
"Loud" is possibly the most offensive opener in all of Polyphia's discography and nicely sums up my issues with The Most Hated
; self-awareness is no forte of these Texan shredders. I think there is good reason for the decent amount of acclaim the band received with their throwback effort, Muse
. That release was riding off of the sound of an era that had and continues to age well. This new EP is pulling inspiration from a style that is yet to prove its worth. The booming 808s, rapid-fire hats and completely egregious overuse of stale trap synths and horns all feel tacked on. Gulag-senpai's comment on the song's official YouTube stream sums it up well in a backhanded sort of way; "oh yeah this takes me back to powerpoint 2003". The song (and by extension, the whole EP) is playing on our love of familiarity but in the same way Powerpoint 2003's design and structure aren't suited for extended use in a current world, Polyphia's persistent trap leanings already feel half-way dated and archaic. Even so, the point still stands; this EP feels shockingly comfortable in its own skin. The melodic progressions are obnoxious yet easily remembered. Scott and Tim's choice phrasing style is persistently flashy. The air of cocky confidence established in "Loud" doesn't ever die out over the rest of the EP's runtime. From the sharp arpeggios over "40oz"'s serrated basslines to the groovier-than-thou slides on "Crosty", every second of The Most Hated
feels determined to live up to the title. Polyphia do not care what you think.
And yet, they do. They really, really do. Here lies a band who seemingly brags about their self-confidence through their technical talents but lacks (or maybe even ignores) the introspection required to see that The Most Hated
is the most middling and uninspired release they have yet put out. There is most certainly fun to be had here. The level of self-indulgence showcased on some of these tracks is just about imprudent enough to warrant a few laughs out of anyone looking for more than just baseline wanking. The band's (see; The guitarist's) instrumental prowess is in top form with every riff and hook being just as surgically precise as the electronic instrumentation underpinning every song. However, in trying to give a massive middle finger to anyone who associated with the band's dated, core-tinged roots, Polyphia have simultaneously managed to reassure us that not much has changed. Polyphia have always been about following trends. Fingers crossed they will take a look in the mirror before jumping onto the next passing fad with future endeavours.