|Wave Machines — Pollen (2013)|
Wave Machines — Pollen
Location: Liverpool, England
Album release: January 21, 2013
Record Label: Neapolitan
Notable instrument: MalletKAT
01. Counting Birds (3:40)
02. Ill Fit (3:14)
03. I Hold Loneliness (3:00)
04. Blood Will Roll (5:45)
05. Home (4:36)
06. Pollen (4:32)
07. Unwound (4:57)
08. Walk Before I Run (5:22)
09. Gale (3:54)
10. Sitting In A Chair, Blinking (5:46)
• Tim Bruzon - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Synthesiser, Programming (2007-present)
• Carl Bown - Guitar, Bass, Synth, Vocals (2007-present)
• James Walsh - Synthesiser, Samples, Programming, Bass, Percussion, Clarinet, Vocals (2007-present)
• Vidar Norheim - Drums, Malletkat, Vocals (2007-present)
Press contact: Amanda Freeman -
Agent: Paul Boswell -
General director: Ciro Romano -
• The MalletKAT is in a class of MIDI percussion controllers which also includes the DrumKAT, DK10, and TrapKAT.
• "2013 sophomore album from the Liverpool outfit. Working with producer Lexxx (Wild Beasts, Bjork), who produced and mixed the album alongside the band, this long awaited follow-up reveals a darker, more nuanced vision for the lush disco-hook. Simultaneously intimate and epic, haunting and direct, Pollen takes the sonic palette the band developed on their debut and simultaneously expands it and makes it denser. Featuring the single Ill Fit , Pollen points towards what will be a massive return-to-the-fray for one of the most promising acts of the last few years."
• De l'indie electropop légere, délicate et nuancée, qui, de plus, n'oublie pas la musicalité et les mélodies, oui ça existe aussi! Un pollen élégant transporté par le vent printanier...
Words by PADDY HUGHES (Editor rating: 8/10)
A record that’s equal parts mournful and uplifting.
• Over three years since their debut ‘Wave If You’re Really There’, Wave Machines’ new album ‘Pollen’ sees the band hooking up with producer Lexxx to deliver a record that’s equal parts mournful and uplifting. Recorded in a selfmade rehearsal space amongst the eaves of St. Bride’s Church in their local Liverpool, then manipulated and mastered in Lexxx’s London studio, the album is full of ethereal, inventive synth lines and falsetto vocal harmonies, offset perfectly with snapping drums that are at the heart of changes in tempo. ‘Unwound’ encapsulates this perfectly, a slow build of a track where the insistent drums underpin the other luscious layers.
Finely wrought modern funk-pop wearing its emotions on its sleeve.
David Sheppard 2013-01-14
• It’s been three years since Wave Machines’ debut, Wave If You’re Really There, won them extensive critical plaudits and a burgeoning fanbase. The Liverpudlians have not been idle in the interim, however, inexorably crafting its successor in their studio in the shadow of their city’s Anglican cathedral; and in London, with sometime Arcade Fire and Goldfrapp knob-twiddler Lexxx.
• Unsurprisingly, then, Pollen’s production values err towards the deluxe, and its 10, thickly textured essays brook no sonic argument. There is emotional heft here, too, with, by turns, clipped and soaring vocal performances from frontman Tim Bruzon, delivering lyrics which deal in everything from the nature of human companionship to the elemental power of the weather. There’s even a eulogy to the unsupervised Chinese cockle-pickers who perished in the tides of Morecombe Bay in 2004.
• Opener Counting Birds sets the musical tone with its epic synth strings, crunching beats and up-front-and-personal vocals pitched somewhere between a whispered confession and a dismissive sneer. The ensuing Ill Fit adds liquid syndrums, choppy machine rhythms, falsetto voices and alliterative rhymes to the mix. It offers an acute, Anglo update on dancefloor Prince, proffering opaque lyrics about something which itches “like a scratch on a B side” – a neat image completely analogous with the song’s twitching, faltering funk.
• Elsewhere, I Hold Loneliness alloys further kinetic beats with a thoroughly blissed-out pop chorus, while Home’s scrubbed guitars, rhapsodic chorus and busy drums suggest a Merseyside Arcade Fire. The old-school drum box and lullaby vocals of Unwound, meanwhile, recall the solo work of The Sea and Cake’s Sam Prekop.
• The beats recede for the title track – the aforementioned cockle-pickers’ tribute. Its gentle, waltz-time electric guitar arpeggios and mournful harmonium tones are instantly arresting and prove a poignant foil for Bruzon’s careful, non-sententious lyrics. These touchingly contrast the “hard bodies” of Antony Gormley’s iron figure Another Place sculptures (located in nearby Crosby Sands) with the “soft bodies” of the dead Chinese workers.
• Solid, but never stolid, Pollen is a finely wrought, modern funk-pop artefact which wears its emotions on its sleeve. Odd, then, that its most affecting moment occurs when the dance machines are turned off.
By Jazz Monroe
• There was a brief moment in the mid-Noughties when, in the wake of sweaty-lad guitar pop, the impending rise of excitable synth-jabbers paved the way for a narrative of new-dawn futurism. A few years later, the weekly music press responsible for said narrative repaid the crushed dreams of its readership - these burned-out, Bowie-needing, La Roux-having teens - by promoting the anti-climactic bliss music of bands like The xx. Tired of macho, rousing, organised 4/4 fun, such bands dared ask? Well here’s something that, in the most deliberate sense, goes about its business in as boring a manner as can be afforded.
• Somewhere in the middle sit Wave Machines, occupying the space between Green Man festival and a third-room student club night. You hesitate before writing the four piece off, however, because during their live show, Wave Machines wear masks. No concepts, mind. No costumes or alter-egos. But yeah, just masks. And you can contemplate the significance of identity and disguise in electronic music in this interesting piece over at the Quietus, an activity undoubtedly more enlightening than reading this review, or - depending on your threshold for heavy-atmosphere, light-substance synth-pop - listening to Wave Machines’ second album, Pollen.
• But they wear masks, see. Thing is, the necessary emotional and personal investment to justify such behaviour is untraceable. The saddest fact of Pollen is its lyrical vagueness. What blank atrocity, you wonder, hides behind the masks? It’s like a cyber-mirage of Liverpudlian nesting dolls; a nothing wrapped inside an enigma wrapped inside utilitarian lyrics about outsiderdom and loneliness. The song someone decided to title ‘Sitting in a Chair, Blinking’ was perhaps a lost cause, but ‘Blood Will Roll’ is equally lethargic: its overegged ambience is imbued with the deflating air of New Order soundtracking men’s fragrance ads.
• There are passages of some inspiration, though these too wither and fade on repeated listens. Buoyant lead song ‘Ill Fit’ makes the familiar mistake of injecting by-numbers, falsetto-littered synth-pop with a crude Garageband funk add-on. It has an etiolated groove that’s presumably what TV on the Radio sound like to people who don’t like TV on the Radio. Meanwhile ‘Counting Birds’, with its spooky whispers of “white shadows”, crowbars in some grandiose, album-opening strings and rattles on like a flat-pack These New Puritans, evincing the kind of twilit pop that belongs pitter-pattering in the speakers of a village library’s teen fantasy section.
• Wave Machines aren’t the first alt-mainstream crossover hopefuls to (over-)produce melancholic, technically capable anthems while forgoing much sense of directness or identity. But ultimately what disappoints is the dour inevitably of it all, insert-climax-here tunes wafting and wintry, gliding wistfully in one ear and out the other.
• Wave Machines 4 / 10
By Joe Goggins, 15 January 2013 (Editor rating: 6/10)
• On the face of it, it might not seem particularly remarkable that Wave Machines‘ debut record, Wave If You’re Really There, flew almost entirely under the radar back in 2009; an endearingly eccentric effort that veered between irresistible indie pop and more pensive slow burners, it was by no means that year’s most obvious crossover candidate. That said, the subsequent success of some of their contemporaries should give them great encouragement ahead of the release of second LP Pollen; Wild Beasts, another band reliant on textured soundscapes and soaring falsettos, have cemented their position as indie darlings of the day since Wave Machines were last around, whilst Everything Everything and Dutch Uncles have proved that the public appetite for unconventional approaches to indie-pop is perhaps sharper than you might think.
• It’s clear from the off that there’s no intention to temper the experimental nature of the sound that Wave Machines established on their first record with Pollen; if anything, opener ‘Counting Birds’ hints at expansion on that front – it’s a stormy, downbeat affair, with uncharacteristically low key vocals from Tim Bruzon underpinned by menacing synths. Like its predecessor, Pollen veers between a range of styles, but the lines are drawn far less clearly this time – rather than straight switches between the upbeat and the melancholy as before, the band move to bring both sides of their musical personality together throughout the record, with mixed results.
• ‘Ill Fit’ and ‘Blood Will Roll’ are triumphs, the latter driven by crashing, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows‘-esque drums that build towards a satisfactorily frenetic climax. It sets a template that the rest of the record follows, but not always successfully; ‘I Hold Loneliness’ sounds like a slower, more sluggish version of Animal Collective‘s ‘My Girls‘, and the quick tempo of ‘Gale’ feels compromised by the sheer volume of instrumentation. Often, the overlapping synths on the record lend the songs a dense quality that smothers the vocals, which might explain why, commercially speaking at least, they find themselves lagging behind similarly eccentric peers like Wild Beasts and Everything Everything. Those bands allow the unusual vocal style to take centre stage and build songs around it, but on Pollen, the vocals often seem treated as an afterthought, drowned in a sea of electronic noise. For a band like Wave Machines, less can so often be more, and nothing proves this point quite like the record’s gorgeous closer, ‘Sitting in a Chair, Blinking’; sparse and restrained in its instrumentation, it gives the vocals a little room to breathe, with startlingly effective results.
• Irrespective of opinion, Wave Machines’ faith in their own experimental style and apparent refusal to entertain outside ideas of what might amount to a more commercially viable sound is to be commended. There are moments of brilliance on Pollen that are more than enough to point to promise in future releases, and there’s plenty of room for more alt-pop bands; exercising a little more restraint might launch them into the popular appreciation that’s so far eluded them.
by Tom Dani, 17 January 2013 (Editor rating: 7,5/10)
Reviewer: Tom Baker (Editor rating: 6/10)
• While the Liverpudlians' second album is more focused than its predecessor, there's not as much fun on show.
Written by: Jess Owen (Editor rating: 6/10)
By Richard Wink
• Wave If You're Really There (Neapolitan, 15 Jun 2009)
• Pollen (Neapolitan, 21 Jan 2013)
• "I Go I Go I Go" (Chess Club, 23 Jun 2008)
• "The Greatest Escape We Ever Made" (Chess Club, 27 Oct 2008)
• "Keep the Lights on" (Neapolitan, 27 April 2009)
• "I Go I Go I Go" (Neapolitan, 8 Jun 2009)
• "Punk Spirit" (Neapolitan, 7 Sep 2009)
• "Counting Birds" (Neapolitan, 23 April 2012)
• "Ill Fit" (Neapolitan, 10 October 2012)
|Wave Machines — Pollen (2013)|