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Polak
Rubbernecking
One Little Indian


Britpop is saved!

Before you fall to quickly disbelieving that I would make such a bold and ridiculous statement, allow me to explain. You were not aware that Britpop was in a time of drought, and dangerously close to becoming stale and predictable; that as a segment of the rock world it was beginning to falter? Did you know that the hottest “Brit” band of 2001 is actually not British at all! That’s right, us Britpop fans have fallen for the Strokes –hook, line and sometimes sinker, even those of us that are fully aware of their New York origins. When Jimi Hendrix moved to England, did we suddenly hail him as a Brit? I think not. But fear not, for the little island that could turn good rock music into better rock music has once again given up the best album of the year, possibly of the century so far! And that album is Rubbernecking by Polak. That’s right, those fellows what used to be Adorable. Building on the strong foundations that were lain on their previous One Little Indian release Swansongs, Polak have arranged an album stunningly arrayed with a ne’er before seen depth, maturity and sonic excellence; Ten songs of blissful respite from the ho-hums of the current musical world.

The album kicks off with a downbeat, spacey number entitled “Don’t Wake Me”, which threw me for a loop the first time I heard it and has slowly grown on me with each consecutive listen. It seems the perfect introduction for an album that is sure to drag the listener through so many ups and downs; a sort of Alice in Wonderland-ish “try one eat some”. Chris Parsons makes his steadfast drumming presence quickly known in the beginning moments of “Love Lies”. The song floats along on a multiple layered rhythmic cadence, slowly building to the lyrical crescendo of Love fucks with you, and dropping back down to a semi-bachelor lounge musical underpinning. “Joyrider” continues the beautiful onslaught with an emo-esque guitar drone backed with brilliant drumming and layers of perfectly placed chaos noises. A lyrical high point of the record for me, this song makes the entire album shine by association. And if it’s all the same to you, can I have my heart back, please? ‘Cause I just need it to live and love and be. It’s a basic design flaw of human frailty… The album drops from the angry drive to a floating beautiful ride with “Sign”, which is a song at once haunting and charmingly pleasant. “Bar Angel” continues the slow ride and intricately detailed musicianship that is so prevalent on this entire record. It is a song that carries itself sweetly along the drunken drifting of the consciousness that tells the story. With slowcore tendencies and self deprecating lyrics, “Dumbstruck” also conveys perfectly to the listener the feeling of the storyteller as he drifts through remembrances and painful realizations.

Back to motion with “Something Wrong”; but the reflective lyrics continue unabated buried neatly beneath layers of swirling distorted guitars. I must have died and gone to heaven; everything is so right, there must be something wrong. Brightly chiming guitars belie the dark undertones of “Payback” with its Sopranos-esque currents and lo-fi musical depths. It’s a song to be peacefully dragged to the bottom of the river of life to, struggling against the concrete boots one wears daily. An untitled hidden track (#9 actually) is an ultra-expressive short with vocalist Peter Fijalkowski seeming to wrench out some inner turmoil for all the world to hear. The title track “Rubbernecking” is a milder, gentler short track which carries straight to the point with absolutely no frills. What do you want me to do? Put all my fuck-ups on view? Lie down and just bleed for you? And nicely tying the package up is the relaxed swirling floating tensely slowly-building maelstrom of “Come Down”. Solid rhythms, expressive and poignant lyrics, glittering synthesizers, and rambling chaos inspired guitars are the order of this song which leaves the ear lusting for more and more and more.

“Rubbernecking” is a record not only necessary to fans of Adorable and Polak, but also to anyone with a sense of what a great record should aspire to. It is a recording not necessarily perfect, but as close as these ears have heard for quite some time. The quality of songs is tremendously high and the musicianship is clever and precise without being stale in any way. Every single lyric in every single song is carefully placed and filled with meaning, albeit sometimes in a very psychedelic and meandering fashion. Caterpillars and hookahs. There are aural delights as well as lyrical, and never a moment for consciousness to lose interest and drift away. This record is an absolute must for every record collection. I swear to you, it won’t leave your cd player for weeks and weeks.

David DeVoe

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Wake Me
  2. Love Lies
  3. Joyrider
  4. Sign
  5. Bar Angel
  6. Dumbstruck
  7. Something Wrong
  8. Payback
  9. Rubbernecking
  10. Come Down

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