Band: Polar Bear Club
Album: Clash Battle Guilt Pride
Label: Bridge nine
Something strikes you as soon as you hear the first few seconds of the first song ‘Pawner’. There is always a little apprehension when you read that a band has made a change in direction. I always fear that that means they’ve gone soft, they’ve lost their edge on pursuit of a more mature sound. Deep down, I don’t really want every album a band makes to sound the same as their last one but when I first put on a new cd a part of me would just feel a bit happier if it did. It’s safe and change is scary, although in the long run a band needs to change. They need to progress, and thats what hits you as soon as you put ‘Clash Battle Guilt Pride’ on. Polar Bear Club have progressed, and how. ‘Pawner’ starts with just a guitar and vocal but it sounds huge. Jimmy Stadt is singing with an assured confidence, the kind of voice you’d usually associate with Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World) or Jonah Matranga (Far), and by the end of the song his voice is soaring. ‘Pawner’ builds up beautifully, an opening statement of intent for the rest of the album, emotionally open and powerful. And it’s from here that the album takes off and never looks back. The next 2 tracks ‘Killin it’ and ‘Screams in Caves’ move the band back to more familiar territory, but still with a step up from their previous album ‘chasing hamburg’. The songs sound more fully formed on this record, a band comfortable with what they want to achieve and now with the skills to convey this. There are times on the record where the Gaslight Anthem spring to mind, not that I’m giving that as a comparison but in a way that this is what I’ve wanted to hear every time I’ve put a ‘Gaslight’ record on. I’ve always liked the rawness of their vocals but musically the Gaslight Anthem leave me wanting more, the sound is to weak but that’s not the case here. Polar Bear Club now seem fully formed, a band trailblazing the emo-core scene. Jimmy Stadt’s vocals are a revelation, a timeless punk voice packed with real power and emotion. Themes of loneliness and fear are dotted throughout the album and also on the cover artwork which is juxtaposed nicely with the strength and spirit of the music. PBC have definitely found their voice. The album finishes as beautifully as it begins with ‘3/4 tango’ An end that leaves you wanting more. I’m very excited to see where the band go from here, this is a record which will deem them worthy of a bigger audience, but for now I’m content to have this album on repeat for the foreseeable future.
Perfect for: screaming along to on the drive home from work.