Album Review: Polaris Rose – Telescopes

 After two EPs – 2013’s The Moon & its Secrets and 2014’s OceanSongs – Los Angeles alt-rockers Polaris Rose dropped their debut full-length Telescopes back in November.  The album sees Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse exploring indie undertones and largely-harmonic vocals for an interesting sonic ride.

Telescopes
starts right off the bat with two of my favourite songs on it: opener “Perfect View”, which is a delightful jam about moving out to Los Angeles and “Blue”, where the verse vocals are a duet and the instrumental ending brings the tempo down just a touch, and awesomely.  After the title track, things slow down a bit with “Kiss Me, Icarus” and “Radio XYZ”.  “Cityscapes” has one of the album’s most memorable lyrics in “we should live our lives drinking deeply from a glass of ocean waves”, and one of the best musical moments too: you can’t call it a solo really because it’s under vocals, but Anthony does some great guitar work in the bridge.  The guitar in “PonyTail” is almost bluesy, and the track features really cool, urgent vocals in the verses.  “Set Me On Fire” is the album’s slowest song, but not a ballad: the best way to describe it is “crawling”, it has a nice dark tone and some interesting atmosphere. “A Diamond In The Sunset” is another of my favourites, and probably the most overtly indie rock song on the album.  Finally, Telescopes ends with “Oceans Collapse”, which starts with my favourite guitar effect: a pick scrape!  Simple but killer every time.  The chorus features a strumming pattern that mimics the vocals in the line “anywhere you want it”, which I also really like.  Considering how much vocal layering and harmonizing is on the album, that could just be effected singing and I’m an idiot, but let’s stick to that being a cool part of the closing track okay!

As a whole, Telescopes features several clips of astronaut talk which really enhance the album’s theme.  I always love extra production like that.  Another standout from the band period is the vocals of both Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse: it’s not like they’re okay singers or one’s good and one’s more a backup, they’re both solid.  Either of them could front a band by them self, and when you couple that with the male/female dynamic it’s a great listen.  The crazy thing is, the album’s been out five months and the band is already working on a follow-up.  No word on whether it’s an EP or full-length, but it’ll apparently be called Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies and is due out in the summer.  That’ll be four releases in two years, so you definitely can’t call Polaris Rose lazy.  They clearly have a strong focus (telescope reference!) and are zoomed in (telescope reference!) on their craft.

Polaris Rose online:

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