To anyone with their ear to the ground for new music in the last year or so, the release of Polar Front’s debut e.p is probably a long and keenly awaited affair. Obviously their stock has quite visibly risen of late with technological endorsements and music used in high profile fashion adverts, which is fine for social media and the like but at the end of the day they are a band and all that aside the big question is also the simplest. Can they make great music as readily as they make great headlines?
But as the atmospheric and charged spaces of Saints wash out of the speakers you quickly realise that the answer to that is a resounding yes. And more. Sophie’s mesmerising vocal sits enticingly between modern R’n’B and sonorous dreamscaping and the dynamic range she draws on is breath-taking. But this isn’t a one trick pony and an escalating musical wave built of solid beats, shimmering and soaring guitars and intricate weaves of electronica is soon crashing down around her.
And if the warped, futuristic R’n’B of Triggers and Eye to Eye represent the more chart-friendly aspects of their creative juices, to this old hack it is the majesty and scale of that opener and Faded that tick all the right boxes, fleeting moments when the glory days of 4AD loom large over the performance. Whilst to the modern pop-picker they could easily be seen as ploughing a similar lush musical furrow as the likes of PVRIS, to me there is just as much of the Cocteau’s non-conformity and acoustic anarchy running through the heart of the music. Given the age of the band members this has more than likely been absorbed by osmosis but the fact that it chimes to me from the heart of this beguiling record can only be a good thing. No, make that a great thing.
Yes, they have proved beyond doubt that they were able to come up with the musical goods when it counted and have created a collection of songs that rings out in technicolour, every note sounds like a new and richer shade of scarlet and violet and indigo than the last. They manage to wander between the ambient, sparing and understated, and the textured and supersaturated allowing them to be lush without being vulgar, luxuriant without being indulgent, otherworldly without being twee.
To an old man like me it is post-punk dreamscaping, to the kid in the street soaking up the cool sounds of today I guess Polar Front are first and foremost a pop band, but pop has rarely sounded as transformative and as transfixing as it does here.