4 out of 5
Label: Ecstatic Peace!
Produced by: Nels Cline, Tom Grimley
Polar Goldie Cats instrumental wanderings are probably an acquired taste. They’re not quite expressive enough to appeal to rockers; not jazzy or experimental enough to not be rock or to qualify as outre; and a bit too wiggly to function as slocore minimalists. Tribal drumming; repetitive riffing that sneakily builds on itself: these are the qualities of most PGC compositions, and you’ll know from any given track whether or not it appeals. As it does appeal to me, I was fortunate to have caught an interesting review at the midpoint of their releases – Polar Night Stress – and though their output has been pretty slow thereafter, each release has gotten me anxious to see what other variations they can put on their very specific type of tune, and satisfaction from listening to those eventual releases often puts me scrabbling back through their catalogue.
And it’s all very readily apparent on their self-titled debut, with catly song titled intact and the aforementioned composition tendencies in full swing. The band knew what it was about, way back when. However, there are some signs of beginnings: the group ventures out into some interesting spins on the rocking Whale Song, or the folk-tinged Granjo Banjma, both of which are successful, exciting takes on their shtick. But elsewhere, it’s perhaps preferred that later efforts would dial in their style even more, as the indie looseness of Go Ringette Star is one of the album’s lesser motivated tracks, and the first few songs lack a bit of playing confidence; later releases, the group could get away with loosey gooseyness and have it still sound polished, but here it sounds a bit uncertain.
That’s in comparison to what would come, though. The sound is still incredibly interesting from the outset, and especially when the disc hits the amped up Whale Song, it suddenly feels like you’re listening to full bore PGC from future albums.