Polar Bear Club: Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride

Those of you reading this now are actually lucky because this album doesnt hit shelves until Tuesday (9/13), so you get to be enlightened before everyone else. AREN’T YOU SO LUCKY!! This is the third release from these upstate new Yorkers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Polar Bear Club, no i’m not referring to the polar bear plunge where crazy people go swimming in freezing water for fun. I’m talking about a band that blend a Post Hardcore sensibility with a layer of American Indie rock just below the surface. They’re not too abrasive and hectic and don’t rely on massive beatdowns or dance-stlyle beats to carry them. They also aren’t too mellow or whiney like most Indie bands in America. They’re a very pure and stripped down band that rely on their witty lyrics and distinct singer to carry them, and they’ve been getting quite the attention of the music press over the years, and for good reason.

Now, I said that they were very stripped down in the way they sound, but I don’t want that to take away from your possible opinion of them before you listen to them. They have a lot of sounds that are very fast and heavy with a lot of edge, but they also have a lot of songs that mellow out, but they never loose their edge and their singer never really changes his singing style. His style is very distinct in that he shouts almost everything, but it’s still clean and comprehensible. it’s also got a very Scottish edge to it almost, similar to Dropkick Murphys. Polar bear Club are a lot like Title Fight or Touche Amore in the way that it’s just a couple guys in a room unleashing their woes onto the recording. They don’t need any fancy studio tricks to get them loads of attention. They’ve gotten where they are by being a pure and honest band and without compromising. I’ve said similar things about Stray From the Path, but thats like comparing apples and oranges because we’re two completely bands doing two completely different styles of hardcore music. But to put this band in a good perspective, they’ve been on tours with The Gaslight Anthem and Cancer Bats and if you are familiar with either band then that’ll help explain the dynamism of this band.

Now, I’ve been a fan ever since I first heard their song ‘Living Saints” because it was free song on itunes. I was gravitated to Jimmy Stadt’s vocal performance. I never really heard anyone shout quite like that, so I looked into the band, listened to the two albums they put out prior to this new one (they have a bunch of EPs that they released as well, but they have the same songs as the records, so don’t bother really) and have enjoyed everything they’ve done. They’re a very consistent band and this is simply another great record by a great rising force. It’s not my favorite album by them, I prefer “Chasing Hamburg” (their second album) mainly because that was my entry point with this band, but there’s moments on this new album that aren’t on any of their previous albums that are fantastic and vise versa. It doesnt delineate in any way shape or form  and is just an all out great Punk record.

I don’t really look at bands based on singles. I weigh every song the same and don’t look at a song differently if it’s a single or not because there are plenty of bands that have songs that I prefer to their singles any day of the week. That being said, any song on this record is great. Some songs that stuck out for me were, “Killin it”, “Kneel in Nails”, and “I’ll Never leave New York”. Lyrically, this band are super strong, ealing with topics of abandonment, being lost and trying to find a way home. The main theme I’ve found with this band is simply searching. Searching for a purpose or a destination of some sort. They talk about bad relationships, moving on with life, teenage problems, etc. etc. This makes the band very relatable and very accessible because they can appeal to lots of kids who may feel lost or who may be struggling with certain transitions in life, etc. Now thats not all this band are about, but I’ve found traces of that theme with every record, so it’s definitely a big element in the big picture surrounding the whole scope of the band. They’re a true band and that’s something else that gravitates me to them in the way most people would have been gravitated to the brutal honesty of some punk and metal bands of the late 70s early 80s.

Anyway, this is a great band and I feel like this album will help catapult this band to new heights. Another great album from a great modern post-hardcore band. I highly recommend looking into this band if you are a fan of The Gaslight Anthem, Cancer bats, and/or anything in between. I also think they’re on tour now with some other small name bands related to them  that i’ve never heard of.

Until next time, keep on rocking.

Luke Helker

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