If I had to muster a guess as to what the Michigan trio Polus sound like just from the cover art of their new EP Stellar Moons its cartoonish depiction would have me leaning toward California pop-punk. However I would have been completely wrong and probably would remind myself that one should never judge an album by its cover. So perhaps I would have a look at the names of the album’s five tracks, which in this case would then have me leaning towards hard metal. And even though that would be an excellent guess, it would again be wrong. The genre in which Polus belongs would likely be called progressive rock, though they exercise jazzy influences throughout, as well as employing a certain low level ambient quality to it also.
Stellar Moons opens with the instrumental “Blood Moon Chapel.” Here eerie sounding synths and wild electronic samples are intermixed with sound bites taken from the congregation of Westboro Baptist Church. The track borders on cliché but it does provide one with an idea of the spacey sounding mellow mood music that is to follow.
The title track “Stellar Moons” is a five-minute long prog-rock jam. It begins slowly with funky and jazzy bass lines and quiet drums and keys, and vocals that exist just above a whisper. It is here that the trio begins to show off their jazz laden roots and it pays off well. The grooves make you want to bob your head and get lost in the music. At just about half way through, the track somewhat clumsily turns into a nearly two-minute jam session, which is centered around a keyboard programmed to sound like a church organ. Despite the clumsy lead in, the track helps to lend some diversity to album from the start.
The slow and haunting “Flesh to Carbon” is about as depressing as a song can get. If not clearly evidenced by its title, the song is about the fact that everyone dies in the end. The lyrics are as haunting as the slow and rippling bass line and eerie, watery sounding synths with lines like, “every fire begins with heat / and ends with nothing / every death begins with life / and ends with nothing.” The following track “Requiem” is equally as haunting and again uses soft vocal melodies and echoes influences of shoe-gaze and hints of soul, which emanate from the long and slow organ solo.
Polus has made a solid sounding EP with Stellar Moons. Advice for a follow up full length would be to try and diversify their sound, and to let the bass and drums come out from behind the often too loud keyboard tracks. And this is not a blow, only a suggestion, for the very meaning of progressive rock is simply progress. And progress, as they say, makes perfect.
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