Pollyn - Living in Patterns
Living in Patterns is the Los Angeles three-piece Pollyn's sophomore album but it is in fact the first time the UK gets an official release from them with their previous effort, This Little Night, not being available to us over the pond. Really no one explains the band as well as they do themselves on the myriad of social networking websites they have, a prerequisite now for anyone who has badly strummed a guitar or made a 'dutty dubstep banger' on the free trial version of Fruityloops, so I will let them do it. On Facebook, the band states, 'Born out of their mutual love for the sample-heavy 90's electronic scene, Pollyn makes atmospheric music influenced by down-tempo, new wave, funk, world and traditional pop'. If that hasn't already put you off then, by all means, please read on.
The album starts off much like a pint of milk that is one day out of date, unpleasant but palatable. The first two songs, save for some very interesting percussive sounds, drag on with some garish synths and Genevieve Artadi's vocals which are in no way bad but just quite uninteresting. The progression of 'Hot Air' is established very early in the song and repeated for over four minutes with little in the way of musical evolution in the song. 'Ay Ya Ya Ya (Forever in My Hands)' has a really annoying title and an equally annoying guitar line. There are some dull call-and-response vocals and the percussion, the saving grace on many of these songs, is too busy. It's just plain erratic and disorientating.
Call me old fashioned but if you are going to make a pop record however cool, indie and underground you are, you need some hooks and a chorus which is in some way memorable. Having extensively listened to this album I can tell you that very little has stuck with me. In an era where inoffensive synth-pop bands are springing up like a rash it is difficult for bands to stand out but with this album Pollyn do not help themselves; Living in Patterns is just so clinical and calculated there is little in the way of emotion in these songs. I feel like I'm sitting at the end of a conveyor belt being fed mass produced indie dance-floor hits. It's not that I am biased and have a hatred for all music that comes under the bracket Pollyn are so desperately trying not to fall under claiming to be 'hard to place into a specific genre'. Every time I put this album on there is a small voice at the back of my mind saying, 'You could be listening to Glasser. You could be listening to the xx or Fujiya and Miyagi and enjoying it a lot more than this!'
The synth sounds on 'Outta Luck' hit a new low for the album with Pollyn almost flirting with Unicorn Kid 8-bit territory, all be it with a funky twist which is as bad as it sounds on paper. 'Lost in the Night' I found myself enjoying the most, though this is very subjective given the other songs on offer here. It's a much more balanced song with some much more listenable instrumentation and some superb electronic drum beats from Adam Jay Weissman.
Every song on here has some merit but it is usually buried under a huge layer of annoying elements. The vocals of 'How Small We Are' are nicely mixed with some great reverb and delay but the track is ruined by a really poor 30 second guitar solo from Anthony Cava and some of the cheesy harmonies in the vocals at the start of the song. I could go on to show the positives to all the songs on this album that do exist if you listen out for them and how they are so easily outweighed by the negatives.