REVIEW: Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Artist: Polar Bear Club
Album: Clash Battle Guilt Pride
Genre: Punk/Indie
Label: Bridge 9

Polar Bear Club are one of music’s best kept secrets. Their last release, Chasing Hamburg, took the band from internet sensation to scene favorite and even garnered them a fair share of press from outlets too slow to notice the band’s debut, Sometimes Things Just Disappear. The success was so great it took the band around the world (probably more than once) and exposed them to hundreds, if not thousands of music listeners, but I don’t think anything could have prepared the members for what will happen when music fans hear their latest, Clash Battle Guilt Pride (out September 13).

There’s a subtle urgency the radiates from the very early moments of Polar Bear Club’s Clash Battle Guilt Pride that grabs you and refuses to let go. Maybe it’s the calm, yet yearning tone of “Pawner,” or the way way it erupts in near-90’s alt rock, but either way, it’s an opener you’ll be telling your friends about for weeks. Part Rise Against, part East Coast mentality, and a whole lot of heart go come together to let people know this is an album miles ahead of anything the band has released before and if “Pawner” doesn’t prove that, “Killin It” definitely will. They flow together seamlessly, as does most of the record, but the ideas and feelings stand perfectly fine on their own.

By the time you’re sinking into the sobering double shot of “Screams In Caves” and “Kneel On Nails” I dare you to not find yourself with your attention focused fully on the sounds coming from your headphones. The band rattles with the call of an anthem , but the lyrics feel like a conversation between old friends, and the result of this combination delivers again and again.

“I’ll Never Leave New York” eases listeners into the album’s back half with a mellow tale of life on the rocks. It’s a bit more relaxed than most fans may want to hear, but it actually works spectacularly well for the group. Jimmy Stadt’s gravel-laced vocals evoke this feeling of a life spent traveling and it’s reflected more poignantly than ever hear and throughout the album’s back half he constantly stands out as one of the scene’s most promising voices. It’s understood many people may consider PBC already established, but if this record proves anything it’s that they deserve exposure and success on a much, MUCH larger scale.

If I didn’t take a moment in this review to comment on “3-4 Tango” I would feel as if I did everyone anticipating this record a grave injustice. There will be songs everyone loves, singles, and anthems that part of PBC’s live show forever after this album is released, but something about this song feels like it could radiate in the annals of the scene for decades to come. It’s brooding, yet energetic. A controlled riot, battling to explode upon the listener, but still graceful in delivery and without a doubt one of the best songs to be laid to tape this year. I don’t mean by PBC either, I mean out of everyone. This song rips.

When listening to Clash Battle Guilt Pride, it’s hard to shake the sense that this is the sound growing up (and I don’t mean that as a reference to Blink-182). This is growing up in the 21st century with friendships stronger than diamonds and people capable of horrible things. This is nights spent in celebration coupled with weeks of depression and a heavy dose of self-realization. This is the sound of strife and love fighting for the control of the human spirit and I’ll be damned if anyone can come close to the notes this record hits. A wholly unique release that should become an instant part of your collection, as well as the collection of everyone that claims to have good taste in music.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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