Somewhere in the nineties 'Two Princes' by The Spin Doctors was a huge hit. The song itself wasn't that great and to be honest, the rest of their music was even worse. So I decided to forget everything about this band. That worked pretty well, until Polar Circles showed up. Suddenly I'm back at Rock Werchter (a Belgian megafestival), listening to the some of the rock sounds of the nineties. And this time, it's not a disappointment at all. Polar Circles shows what The Spin Doctors would sound like when the latter would actually have made some decent music.
Polar Cirles is a band from Lausanne, Switserland. They founded in 2012 and released an e.p. in May that year. Now they're back with an untitled full length, already showing a mature band that knows a thing or two about song writing. The distortion pedal is mostly ignored (except in some songs and on guitar solos) and the whole sounds very clean and maybe a bit goody-goody. However it's still some decent rock music where influences from (classic) rock, grunge, indie and a touch of funk shine through.
The previous comparison with Spin Doctors comes from tracks like 'Cry Baby Cry' or 'Heavy Words', some very radio friendly songs. The combination of clean guitars, uplifting drums and Ians distinct vocals (often a bit Jamiroquai-like) make this album very enjoyable. On 'Feelings (Come and Move)' Polar Circles show their more emotional and even bluesy side, maybe even resulting in a world class song. This feeling comes back on a few other tracks. On other occasions you can clearly hear references to modern day indie artist like Editors.
'Hopeless Daze' might be one of the more grunge-orientated songs but even here there's a lot more songwriter-ship involved than in most grunge bands. Personally I wouldn't categorise Polar Circles as a grunge band at all. Perhaps some influences from bands like Pearl Jam come shining through but Polar Circles is a lot more than that. This is simply a modern rock band, focused on writing very decent songs and succeeding in that for about 95% of the time. The other five percent is probably wasted on flashbacks of lesser talented bands the listener heard about twenty years ago.
So if you're a nineties kid, craving for a time where emotion and skills were a big part of the music business, go to their bandcamp and order yourself a copy of this lovely album, because 'lovely' is a perfect word for this. From the music to the beautiful artwork by Adrian Gramunt & Gabriel Mettraux this album shows great craftsmanship. The mastering and production sound very professional and frankly, so does the music. I for one am very happy I got a chance to listen to this. It's a very welcome change from some of the over-distorted stuff the rock business produces these days.