Chapel Hill, NC quartet Polvo will release “In Prism” on September 8th with Merge Records — their first album of new material since 1997’s “Shapes”. 12 years! This makes me feel kinda old, but still, I am thrilled to see the group back together and making new music. Polvo were perhaps the most influential band for me during my own music making days, with their crooked tunings, fucked-up time signatures, and surreal energy. They along with a few other ‘post-rock’ bands (i.e. Slint, Tortoise, June of 44) helped define and sway the way I wrote songs until I fully embraced electronic music in the early 2000’s.
Now a dozen years have flipped by in a daydream, and Polvo have returned with “In Prism”. Recorded as always by Brian Paulson, the new material is exactly what you would expect from them. It’s dark, moody, catchy, and off-kilter. It may be a bit more straight-forward than their earlier work, the production may be a touch cleaner, and the overall tempo slightly slower (think “Fast Canoe”, instead of “Tragic Carpet Ride”), but this is a mature, wiser Polvo, and they do not disappoint. And even though Paulson’s production is cleaner, it’s still his most dynamic recording to date with the band.
The riff of opening track “Right the Relation” sounds like a crunchier “Thermal Treasure” and is a good example of the ‘more straight-forwardness’ I mentioned above, while other tracks like “City Birds” and “Dream Residue/Work” play as if mined from old recording sessions — like secret B-sides from “Exploded Drawing” and “Shapes”. Long time fans will never be able to call this their best album, but hell if it ain’t an amazingly welcome addition to their discography.
A near seamless return. Great work boys. If you are lucky enough to live in one of the few U.S. cities they are touring this fall, go and see them rip it up old-skoool. Peace.