Reviews Polar Bear Club Chasing Hamburg

Polar Bear Club

Chasing Hamburg

Polar Bear Club is essentially the musical version of the story, The Little Engine that Could. Here we have a band, that started out merely four years ago, playing shows wherever they could when the mood struck them to do so. With their debut EP, there was great promise; everyone that heard it realized it. But it really didn’t click with the general population - or should I say, the general masses of the underground music world - until Sometimes Things Just Disappear was released in 2008. With its release, it became apparent that Polar Bear Club was something special.

In the short year since Sometimes Things Just Disappear was released, Polar Bear Club has seen their status catapulted to levels that I’m sure their members never even dreamed were imaginable. And what is most intriguing about it is the group’s ability to stay grounded, write the record that they wanted, and just enjoy the ride.

“See the Wind” leads Chasing Hamburg off with echoing feedback and vocalist Jimmy Stadt shouting in a semi-gravel throated voice. The drums hit and guitarists Chris Browne and Nate Morris showcase their talents. Firstly are consistent crisp riffings, which eventually give way to more melodic tones and the intertwining and noodling of the duel guitars. And this is how Polar Bear Club delivers their songs, for the most part. Cycling through post-hardcore riff sessions and more delicate moments, all anchored around a fluid rhythm section and a carefully varied vocal performance of semi-rough yells and soaring harmonies.

Polar Bear Club showcase their songwriting talents and growth as musicians with Chasing Hamburg. “Living Saints” might be the most infectious song they’ve penned thus far, it certainly is the most replayed song of the album for me. The chorus is super catchy and they’ve partnered that with an upbeat melodic punk song that immediately has me reaching for the back button. “Drifting Thing” is the group’s most unique songwriting choice. Muted guitar riffs provide the backbone for the song as Stadt’s vocals offer the main focus. The song is accented with subdued drumming, the occasional bass lick, and soft flourishes of other guitars. It definitely highlights the band members’ abilities to reach out for something different and execute it with perfection.

Outside of those variations, Polar Bear Club sticks to what they know, and that’s emo-influenced melodic punk. “Song to Persona” is among the best performances of the band’s typical sound with its repetitive riffs spliced with dynamic melodies - imagine Small Brown Bike meeting The Get Up Kids for a late-night get-together. Harmonized riffing and the duel vocals of Aaron Scott of Attica! Attica! make for a magical finish. Equally as memorable is the title-track, which is obviously chosen for the final track due to its resonating lyrics and dramatic structure.

Chasing Hamburg may not mark itself with the impact statement that its predecessor did, and that’s okay. Not every album that a band releases is going to define or cement ones status. Bands are extremely lucky if it happens once; and I can name maybe a handful of bands that have ever done so twice. In the end, Polar Bear Club have pieced together another fabulous album with Chasing Hamburg, and positioned themselves, yet again, as a candidate for album of the year with many fans and critics.

8.0 / 10Michael
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8.0 / 10

8.0 / 10

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