Review: Same As You, Polar Bear

4-stars27th March 2015

0004583073_10Like a musical Groundhog Polar Bear are here to show us that summer is finally come with their euphorically sun drenched new album Same As You.

Newton’s postulation that each and every action has an equal and opposite reaction seems to ring true for Bear as this new album’s effervescence feels like the very counter to last year’s achingly intense In Each and Every One.

Recorded in the sunny climbs of LA and even the Mojave Desert Same as You is the “Sun” to Each and Every One’s “Moon” as Rochford himself reflects. And it’s truly a musical Sun Salutation.

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This contrast in mood should not come as such a surprise given the backdrop to both albums genesis. Last year Polar Bear were a band in flux. Without a release in 4-years, band leader Seb Rochford described them as being “distant” and that the process to make the album as being one of “saying ‘no’ to things.”

After the success of In Each, which saw the band bag their second Mercury Prize nomination, it was hard to know where they might go next on their musical odyssey. What we learn here is that it was a move away from the more synthetic beats and tones to a more organic acoustic soundscape. Dub and Afro-Caribbean flavours have been added in the place of samples and electronica and provides a somewhat more natural feel.

Shimmering with a hazy capaciousness the opening track is a spoken word piece of such unrestrained joyfulness that it is somewhat overwhelming, like waves of strong hallucinogens washing over the listener (it’s telling that when listening to the album on shuffle it sits much more at ease). But what the opening salvo does provide is a very literal mantra for the album – “Life, love and light.”

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‘Don’t Let the Feeling Go’ is perhaps the most overtly traditional ‘song’ Bear have done in some time with its riffs and catchy repeated vocals (as provided by Rochford and singer Hannah Darling).

Free-form improvisation and varied time signatures still have their place here though and Pete Wareham and Mark Lockheart sax extemporizations still form the basis of most tunes.

Incandescently bright Same As You is yet another fascinating and beautifully crafted album in Polar Bears peerless discography.

To get your hands on the album simply click here.

By Kevin McGough