polvo in prism
  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 02, 2009

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The turn of the first decade of the century seems to be a point of rejuvenation for the mid 90's, paving the way for a collection of old bands to reform and hold hands once more while trying to create the fabled "reunion record." Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth did well, but they haven't disappeared for long enough to warrant a standing ovation or anything. Polvo however, may take top honors with this rekindling of their former selves... breaking up in the mid nineties means it's been quite a while; the group only reformed in 2008 for All Tomorrows Parties, and quickly signed with Merge to release an album. And although they never gathered critical acclaim in their heyday, their influence was felt, and their contributions appreciated. Now their "reunion record" sounds more like the next level in a continuation of their growth as a band.

The 'Prism' is an apt metaphor, being that Polvo provided the tools for multiple refractions of their style over the past fifteen years or so. Their angular guitar riffs are still obtuse, crammed into tunings that confuse as much as elicit a response from listeners, but that's half the fun of so-called "math rock:" it makes more sense when thought of numerically. Polvo also embarks on epic tirades of climbing key shifts, in "D.C. Trails" and "Lucia," which changes it's tone numerous times during it's eight minute run time.

The album really excels when the band settles into a groove like on "Beggars Bowl," which matches a poly rhythmic lick with some solidly distorted shredding; the kind of 90's rock magic that many have failed to revitalize. And although the record loses momentum slightly, the end of "A Link In The Chain" is still dizzying and satisfying. In Prism is a spark that seems frozen in time, and thawed just in time to be hotter than ever. Although their style paved the way for future time-shifting epic riff wielding rock, they don't quite hold the same relevance to musical development or progressiveness. Instead, Polvo perfects the comeback record by simply doing what they did before, only better. No tricks, no regression, and no excuses for eight minute opus rock. And the result is a front-to-back ear-pleaser. -joe puglisi

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