Polar Bear Club

Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Written by: PP on 05/10/2011 06:05:58

After hearing Polar Bear Club's third album "Clash Battle Guilt Pride", I've become convinced that they'll never be able to top the intensified emotional surges of their debut album "Sometimes Things Just Disappear". That album had a rawer edge to it, intriguing post-hardcore undertones, and a one-of-a-kind energy to it that bands only have once during their entire career. That, however, doesn't mean that "Clash Battle Guilt Pride", like its predecessor "Chasing Hamburg", isn't a good record. It's just different. It presents a Polar Bear Club that has matured in songwriting and career-ambition, where the rougher edges and intense build ups have been exchanged with a more streamlined sound that fully removes the band from the punk / post-hardcore hybrid sound they sported in the past, now replaced with a far more accessible and straight-forward rock sound.

Nowhere else is this more evident than on the highlight of the album, "Screams In Caves", the best song Polar Bear Club has written to date, which says a lot considering how strong their repertoire is to start out with. Jimmy Stadt's previously gravelly vocals have transformed into a stance that's more singing than it is screaming, featuring less quirky and subtle melodies and more anthemic delivery instead. Like I said before, it's not necessarily bad, it's just different, and it's more immediately catchy; the reward no longer requires dozens upon dozens of listens to reveal itself. And check out those high notes in the middle of the song. Impressive.

At the same time, the guitars no longer take the angular turns and twists as they did on, say, "Hollow Place" or "on "Our Ballads". Instead, they flow more naturally, and now sound like you'd expect from a band looking to expand their fan base to people not previously familiar with them. Accessible, I believe is the word, as I mentioned earlier. But this is of course a process that started already on "Chasing Hamburg" two years ago that is merely completing on "Clash Battle Guilt Pride". Where the former sounds a little weird and like a work-in-progress when you look at it today, this one is a fully formed album where Polar Bear Club seem to have found their sound.

None of the above is meant to convey that older fans would be alienated by the new material offered here. After all, it's not that different, and Polar Bear Club still write music on a level that's unreachable by most bands, demonstrated in particular on the second half of the album where "Religion On The Radio", "I'll Never Leave New York", and "Bottled Wind" among others ensure that "Clash..." continues the high standard we've come to expect from this band. The best way to think of it is that Polar Bear Club have traded their urgent subtlety found in their punk-flavored past with an anthemic brand of rock for intellectuals, filled with elements to draw in the bigger crowds but without abandoning their penchant for intelligent melodies that sound like no other band out there. In the end it's a matter of preference. Me, I find myself longing for the emotionally charged hardcore of their debut and its unforgettable surges of melody and brilliant lyricism, which I think are lacking here somewhat, but others will surely find "Clash Battle Guilt Pride" an excellent release because of how easily accessible it has transformed Polar Bear Club's sound.

Download: Screams In Caves, Religion On The Radio, I'll Never Leave New York
For the fans of: Living With Lions, Basement, Make Do And Mend, Balance & Composure
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.09.2011
Bridge 9 Records

Screams in Caves by Polar Bear Club

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