Rochester, New York strikes again.
First Achilles. Then How We Are. Now, Polar Bear Club.
The latter of those is an extremely gifted five-piece whose raw emotion and unrelenting power could have easily made them a staple of the mid-`90s emo scene. The dual vocals of Jimmy Stadt and Greg Odom provide the perfect contrast between a more sublime, melodic approach, and a much more intense, gruff vocal delivery. Comparisons to Hot Water music will surely be drawn in the vocal department, and while not entirely unwarranted, Polar Bear Club are able to separate themselves with some really dynamic songwriting elements present on each of the EP's five amazing tracks.
Apparently staunch advocates of the "putting your best foot forward" policy, the upstate New York natives storm out of the gates with "Election Day," a song that displays vocal and musical dynamics that will surely be calls for the repeat button time and time again. The vigorous riffing sets the stage for Stadt's emphatic delivery, and the subtle melodic undercurrents help to pull the entire picture into view. The pounding rhythms that help to usher in the chorus reverberate underneath the yells of "shiny roads, take me home, street lights illuminate the thoughts I can't escape." The two vocalists are able to trade back and forth in a remarkably smooth and effortless fashion, giving each of the five songs much more depth than could have been provided by only having one.
The two songs following "Election Day" are terrific, but things really pick up with the anthemic "Parked in the Parking Lot." After being lulled in by a quick atmospheric portion of the song, the intense vocals really kick the door down and let the band explore the more intense parts of their songwriting. Every methodical drum fill and every riff played perfectly compliments the song's rough-around-the-edges approach. Stadt reaches down to the real base of his vocal chords to pull out something strong in every single verse. "Most Miserable Life" rounds out this EP in fine fashion, with a chorus that's simply impossible to not yell along with once you learn the words.
The one, and only reason this EP didn't get a perfect score is because it just left me wanting it to be an album, left me wanting so badly to hear another five songs. There's not a single bout of inconsistency or weakness in any of these five songs, it's just as strong and cohesive a unit as these songs are on their own. Unquestionably, the best EP I've heard in years.