30 July 2016

Polarsets - Horizon


Sometimes you can miss things that are happening right on your own doorstep.  In this long overdue Cover Roulette review, I am going to look at the latest release from Polarsets, a band from my home town of Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  I would love to say I have heard of them before, share stories of their shows and all of that jazz; alas I cannot, as it would be as big a lie as the illusion of freedom.  The only information I can get from their Facebook is that the band are comprised of Rob Howe, Mickey Smith, James Rudd & Carmen Ledda Green.  After that, it is very sketchy on information about the band, as is their website and other accounts; however, they do have some spectacular videos and images.  But this is a Cover Roulette review, one which I have started just because I love the image of the album.  The desert panorama with a circular effect in a stark monochrome is very inviting, it is one of those images where you can get lost in.  I wonder if the music has a similar effect on the listener?

Starting the album is "Faster" which is not a cover of the Manic Street Preachers classic song, instead it is in a similar vein to Years & Years and The Killers, synth alternative pop with a sound that is almost akin to a rock riff in places.  It is a very catchy song, a true ear worm which will dance around your head for days and days after you have first heard it.  Like all true pop songs, it has love at its heart, even if this time it is about freedom being offered from a stunted relationship and the offering of fresh pastures.  If ever there was a song that was built for the summer, the music of this song is crafted for the indie dance floor and to start people moving.  "Another Place to Hide" drops the energy down a notch straight away, with a reflective song about times gone by.  It is another indie pop song that wears its influences on its sleeve, but there is a hint of tropical influences to this melancholy tale of lost love and a fragile beauty to the music.  It is a good tune, something so simple and subtle that it can be placed in the heart of a set and the audience will swoon and dance in the same moment.  "Santa Fe" is the nearest that a synth pop band can get to an acoustic ballad with this piano heavy ballad about distance between people and dreams/paranoias that can happen when there are miles between people.  It is a nice song, it has a guitar solo in the middle which is a little out of place and might have been better with a piano solo to be honest, but overall another good song.  "Adelaide" is the halfway point of the album, once more we are dealing with the themes of long distance and self-discovery that comes from running in a direction with focus and drive.  I really like this song, it is a glorious piece of pop and indie combined into a soul searching piece.  But once more, it is heavily in debt to The Killers once more; in fact, it could be the lost twin to "Spaceman" in places here, the notes/chords might not be the same, but they have managed to capture that same soul searching that came from "Spaceman" - albeit with lyrics about moving on to pastures new. 

"On Tonight" starts the second half of this album with a carnival theme, the night is young and full of excitement, possibilities and anticipation.  The party atmosphere has been encoded into the very core of this song, giving it an uplifting momentum that is truly infectious and sets it apart from a lot of its rivals out there.  It is a song that should be being played all around the world as the party sets in, keeping the good time rolling for as long as possible.  "Open Water" is a slower number with a strange time signature to the piano from the drum, which is also slightly different to the guitar on this track.  It is a decent number, but I have never really connected with it as I did with the other songs on the album.  It feels like it has been put together to fill an album, it is there to add length to the record and whilst it is not bad, it is not as good as other tracks on the record either.   The penultimate song of the album is also the title track of the record - "Horizon".  It is all about the chase on this song, aiming for the next crest and seeing what is beyond with all the possibilities that can come from this union.  It is another song that feels like summer has been given clothes and is dancing in the world.  I like this tune, it has potential that is unleashed at the chorus and it feels like the zeitgeist of the album, point zero for everything else that happens on this record.  Ending the album is "Sail Away" which bring the album to a close with a song that is dreaming of leaving once again, heading to new pastures and finding new sanctuary.  However, it feels like two song lumped together as the verses and choruses are fused by the most fragile of threads and it does not sound as organic as the rest of the album.  A decent, but clumsy ending to this album.

It seems as if this album passes a little too quick, but also it leaves the lightest of touches as well.  This is triumph and the curse of the album as well, the songs and themes are like the good times which have gone past and now they are fleeting memories which are left under the veil of time.  But it is like a drunken memory, it is a little fussy and some of the events are not quite complete.  The music here is good and some of the songs do have a certain something, but the influences are more prominent that their own skills.  It is an overall good album, but it is not one that sticks in the mind too long.

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there

Top track - Adelaide


You can purchase the digital version of Horizon on Amazon

You can purchase Horizon from the Polarsets Bandcamp page here

You can visit the Polarsets website here

You can stream Horizon on Spotify here

You can stream Horizon on Deezer here

You can stream Horizon on Tidal here

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