Review by Darren Gawle
The one time I saw Polara live (opening for Spiritualized), guitarist/frontman Ed Ackerson seemed like yet another aspiring Kevin Shields -- at least ten effects pedals, strumming a Fender Jazzmaster with the whammy bar firmly in hand, etc. Yet, through the aural squall that he and his bandmates put out, you could at least hear that there were proper tunes to shore up the foundations of Polara's sonic architecture.
The Pantomime EP sets the stage for an introduction to Polara well enough. "Pantomime" and "Idle Hands" are strong tracks, if a little 1980's-sounding (in the spirit of, say, Echo & the Bunnymen or the Mighty Lemon Drops -- and none the worse for that). You'd need the hearing abilities of a bat, however, to appreciate the difference between "Pantomime" and its "kinder and gentler" remix.
On C'est La Vie, the effects are let off the leash, but at least the tunes can hold their own, mostly because, in Ed Ackerson, Polara have one of the strongest self-production teams around these days. C'est La Vie is a bit too scattershot in the quality of its tracks, however, with the languid beauty of a track like "Shanghai Bell" clashing with the stadium-rock cringe of "Transformation." As well, we are treated to a third version of "Pantomime" which is puzzlingly inferior and similar to the other two, the only difference being an absence of reverb and harmony in the chorus.
Polara: not a bad band, and some comfort to those of us who can't admit to ourselves that shoegazing is dead.
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