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9 out of 10
If Broadway Calls’ Oregon was my favourite pop punk album of last year then Polar Bear Club’s Sometimes Things Just Disappear was my favourite slightly heavier punk rock album of last year. So my breath was just as baited as I popped this album into the CD tray as when I listened to Broadway Calls’ sophomore effort.
Happily I was once again not disappointed.
Chasing Hamburg is unmistakably the same Polar Bear Club that released Sometimes Things Just Disappear. The production is a bit better, but the distinctive gruff vocals remain, as do the melodic, harmonising guitar flourishes that made the first album so special. But this is no simple rehash, and is all the better for it. Chasing Hamburg is the sound of a band maturing. Whilst the Hot Water Music / Small Brown Bike / Lifetime influences still loom large, and dominate the lion’s share of the songs, what makes the album more interesting and, indeed a more worthy successor is the songs that mix it up a little bit more.
Along with the heavier, more straightforward punk rock stylings there are hints of The Get Up Kids and Saves the Day in a lot of the quieter moments, as well as some slightly Dinosaur Jr moments and even a hint of The Boss, Bruce Springsteen via The Gaslight Anthem. It also reminds me in places of Pontefract’s own The Machines Will Take Over, although it’s probably unfair to cite them as a reference.
What Chasing Hamburg may lack in constant pace compared to its predecessor it more than makes up for in variety and maturity. If this is anything to go by, Polar Bear Club is going to be a name you hear a lot more of in the coming year.
1. See the Wind
2. Living Saints
4. Take Me to the Town
5. Drifting Thing
6. Light of Local Eyes
7. Song to Persona
8. The Old Fisher Burial Ground
9. One Hit Back
10. Chasing Hamburg