Review: Pollens – Mister Manufacturer

Experimental, eccentric and energetic, Pollens’ latest avant-pop EP doesn’t hold back – it immerses the listener in their unconventional sound from the first beat.

Blending repetitive speak-singing with angular percussion and synth beats, the 6-track release from the Brooklyn-based duo is reminiscent of tUnE-yArDs, LCD Soundsystem, and Talking Heads.

The band appear more stripped back than previously, both in style – with more minimalist lyrics, melodies, and instrumentation – and in members (it has been dramatically reduced from a collective to just Jeff Aaron Bryant and Elizabeth May.

Despite these changes, the music produced has definitely not lessened in impact. The variety and depth of sounds  that drive the EP give an effect that is greater than the sum of their members. Although these tracks have a less polished result than those in previous releases, the vibe is equally as quirky, innovative and appealing.

Thematically, the EP reflects the duo’s experiences of NYC; specifically, ‘of being around people, and checking your telephone…and making summer mistakes.’ The band are playful in their repetitive lyrics, from telling the listener in ‘Dinosaurs’ that they ‘don’t believe in dinosaurs…outer space…or the ocean floor’, to repeating that they ‘can’t quite hear the words..and often get them wrong’ in ‘Words’.The recurrence of lyrical repetition results in an almost futuristic auditory effect, and brings the intricate, syncopated rhythms to the forefront.

The piece on the EP most likely to resonate with listeners is the aforementioned ‘Words’ – the previously released single that epitomises the blend of precision and chaos, disorder and calm that the band seem to aspire to with their music.

Repetitions of cowbell and drum beats, along with what sounds like almost atonal vocal are punctuated by sections of intense shouting, one of which features the duo hurriedly running through a list of ‘stacks of books, stacks of pants, stacks of shirts…’ The song eventually disintegrates into a scramble of synth and erratic vocals that concludes the EP with a bang.

Overall, the tracks are not long; each averages at around 3 minutes. Their short duration, however, is beneficial – both for each song and the album as a whole. The 5 minutes, 16 seconds that forms ‘Not Talking’ feels somewhat dragged out and repetitive, especially because its lyrical content is predominantly obscure.

With the exception of this seemingly extended piece, each track of Mister Manufacturer provides a short but sweet explosion of eccentric, angular beats and minimalist lyrics.

Here is a sequence created by a band that does not seem to take itself too seriously. This stylistic choice works to Pollens’ credit: having removed the shackles of mainstream music conformism, the group are free to be as wild, daring and creative as possible.

Bethan Ryder

Mister Manufacturer is set for release on Friday 27th October, and is free to download.

NB: Photographer credit for feature image is Stephanie Griffin.

 

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