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
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
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
- Don’t Wake Me
- Love Lies
- Bar Angel
- Something Wrong
- Come Down
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