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Wave Machines - Pollen

Wave Machines - Pollen

by , 17 January 2013

It's been just over three years since Liverpool art pop quartet Wave Machines released their debut Wave If You're Really There, a record that received endless praise for its marriage of alternative funk-infused rhythms with a pop sensibility rarely seen from a UK band. With a debut so heavily individualistic and eclectic, Wave Machines' virtual vanishing act post WIYRT is no surprise; this is a band that clearly treats each creative aspect with the utmost precision (and naturally a sophomore offering is something that no band chooses to take lightly). In addition the band have enlisted the expertise of Lexxx, arguably one of the most exciting and innovative producers in current time and responsible for Wild Beasts' latest offering. Before its first play, Pollen truly emanates excitement and demands high creative expectation.

As opening track 'Counting Birds' begins it becomes instantly clear that Pollen aims to be a sonically deeper offering than the bands debut. Brunzon's vocals are darker than heard before; a raw and intimate delivery accompanied by a bed of elegant strings swell into heavy electronic beats and overdriven bass, showcasing the band in a way that many wouldn't have expected. The usual formula of upfront, quirky pop hooks and vibrant synthesizers has taken a back seat, making way for something far more subtle, delicate and alluring, a sound that has been clearly nurtured and captured flawlessly in production. Whilst arguably a lazy comparison, the band resonate recent Wild Beasts in the way that they so confidently immerse the listener in vivid layers of sound, all along retaining a fundamental atmosphere of intimacy.

As contrastive as Pollen is from the bands debut, it is at heart still identifiable as a Wave Machines record; there's a pop sensibility running through the core of the album, slick, electronic-tinged undertones showing that the band have in no way lost their ability to write a hook, nor to engage you with a rhythm. Leading singles 'Ill Fit' and 'I Hold Loneliness' are great proof of this, an amalgamation of old and new, the provocative rhythms of the bands debut, mixed with the atmospherics of their current sound. That in mind this doesn't feel like a betrayal of their original sound, much more it shows the extent to which Wave Machines have developed in the three years since their debut, the depth and complexity of the bands songwriting and the sincerity that runs through the album paints the image of band far beyond their second release. This is perfectly highlighted in the title-track 'Pollen' featuring delicate guitars and ethereal orchestration that swells and bursts into evocative layers of delays and feedback.

Wave Machines have achieved something quite remarkable with Pollen in the way that it flows so naturally as a body of work. From start to finish each track complements the previous and draws you into the next, being almost contextualised by its surroundings. This is something that fans of the debut may initially struggle with; the tracks are not as immediate, the hooks less distinct and the rhythms less exuberant, as a result of this some tracks loose their impact as individual offerings. However once delved into it's well worth the effort, Pollen truly immerses you in its persona, carrying you through a somber yet romantic experience. For a second record it boasts a sound that is bold and uncompromising, showcasing a band that are utterly confident in their own skin. That in mind, one can only imagine where this albums follow up will take them.

Rating: 7.5/10

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