Review: Polar Bear Club – Death Chorus

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“I’m nothing but young possibilities / And still I’m tied to the tracks of being anything” – WLWYCD, Polar Bear Club

Polar Bear Club have been a staple to the post-hardcore scene for several years now. Known for vocalist Jimmy Stadt’s rough, growling singing over rippling punk guitars has earned the group praise for years. Their chugging choruses and melodic punk have found slightly different veins on each release, but all of their albums have held steady to the same style of music. The group’s newest release, Death Chorus, is the greatest departure the group have taken from their standard sound, but possibly the most concise album the group has ever released.

The most noticeable difference between Death Chorus and the rest of Polar Bear Club’s discography is the vocals. Jimmy Stadt’s signature deep, gravely vocals have been replaced by a significantly higher pitched voice without the gurgle that he’s known for (Think the difference in Chris Connely’s voice between Saves The Day’s Stay What You Are and In Reverie, but not nearly as drastic). However, Stadt addressed this in a post on the band’s website as a natural change in his voice.

The second major difference is that the music isn’t nearly as hard or dark as it usually is. This is a very pop-punk friendly album that is hard to match up against the dark brooding of their past work, but aligns itself nicely against singles like “Light of Local Eyes”. All together, this is hands-down one of the best pop-punk albums of the year.

The album’s opener, “Blood Balloon” is arguably the most “signature” sounding song on the CD. This is your first taste of the pop sound but with the heavily slowed guitar chugs during the chorus, mixing Polar Bear Club’s heavy music with the melody of The Get Up Kids. “For Show” is destined to be a staple during live shows, bouncing the guitars in a uplifting pop that pushes the chorus to a steady crescendo.

“When We Were College Kids” is the second part of multiple songs near the end of the record that just melt into each other to form a larger piece. The song is ripe with energy and deliberate crunch of the guitar. Stadt’s choruses are backed by a smooth and constant single guitar stringing along behind him to make a killer song begging to be sung along to as loud as you can. Near the end, “Upstate Mosquito” is perhaps the biggest surprise on the record though, as it is the most straight forward punk song, charging ahead like an early Saves The Day or Lifetime song.

This new sound isn’t meant to be an insult to long time fans; it’s the soundtrack to the lyrical theme of the album. Where their past albums have been brooding and lyrically vague, Death Chorus is direct, powerful and full of hope. These are songs to instill hope and the will to fight for yourself in what almost feels like a rivalry to The Wonder Years.

Death Chorus marks a new direction for Polar Bear Club, aligning themselves with the pop of their past singles without losing focus or power. They’ve crafted a pop-punk record that will take many bands in that genre to school, and all the better for it.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

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