Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Record Label: Bridge Nine
“Whoa, why don't I listen to this band more often?”
Such a question would enter my mind anytime I played Chasing Hamburg, the 2009 album from the melodic-punk Polar Bear Club. Their Bridge Nine debut was a solid effort, but as the aforementioned question proves, it had very little staying power. All that will change with their third, and best, album yet, Clash Battle Guilt Pride. What we have here is an eleven track journey that will captivate you immediately, thanks to the band's dedication to exemplary lyricism and refined songwriting.
It only makes sense that the band worked with Brian McTernan for LP3, considering he was the producer behind the band (Hot Water Music) that Polar Bear Club seems to draw most of their influence and comparisons from. On Clash Battle Guilt Pride, Polar Bear Club doesn't stray too far from the sound that made Chasing Hamburg a critical darling, but the quintet also incorporate some new structures, tempos, and ideas into their already solid sound. The first example being opener “Pawner,” which begins with calm guitar chords that slowly build up behind the powerful urgency of Jimmy Stadt's vocals. And before you know it, the track crashes perfectly into the gang-vocal laden “Killin' It,” delivering one of the best one-two punches on any 2011 release.
“Screams in Caves” and “My Best Days” are the type of compelling anthems we've been accustomed to hearing from PBC, while tracks like the blistering “Bottled Wind” and “Religion on the Radio” show off a catchier side of the band. Each track is paced by Chris Browne and Nate Morris' fantastic guitar leads and riffs, but Clash Battle Guilt Pride is carried by Stadt's impressive vocal performance. Seriously, you'll be hard pressed to find one as honest and sincere; Stadt shares his ambitions and struggles in such poignant ways. Whether it's the rediscovery of love on “I'll Never Leave New York” or the heart-wrenching narrative found on dark closer “3-4 Tango,” Stadt's lyrics on Clash Battle Guilt Pride will relate to a wide range of listeners.
The quintet from Rochester, NY, have created something truly impressive in Clash Battle Guilt Pride, as it's one of the most organic and genuine albums of 2011. Not many releases contain this much urgency and poignancy like this one – when you listen to it, it feels like it was written for only you. Clash Battle Guilt Pride will speak to and reach others in a way few albums can; it perfectly captures the ups and downs a twenty-something would feel in the 21st century.
From the perspective of someone who has been a long time fan of the band, this record is a grower. The first couple listens left me slightly blank and without any real impression at all. Something kept drawing me back to it though. It isn't so much that I had to work to like this album, but it had to work its way into my life in an oddly unique way. At this point, I am completely sucked into this from start to finish. "I'll Never Leave New York" has been stuck in my head for days.
Solid review for an excellent record. Definitely suggest everybody grabs a copy!
the aggressiveness is still there in most tracks, but I'm glad they laid off it a bit here and expanded their sound, it varies up the disc and keeps it fresh. tracks like Pawner and I'll Always Love New York are fantastic, and of course the closer is one of the best PBC songs ever.