Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Polar Bear - Peepers

Polar Bear
(2010, Leaf)
RIYL = Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis

What do I know about jazz? I mean real jazz with all of its genre specific denotations and in-crowd posturing? Nothing. Absolutely. But, one thing I know is that I love it regardless. So, in reviewing this, Polar Bear’s fourth or fifth or whatever album, Peepers, I am here to simply assert that, yes, I like it. I like it a lot. That’s pretty plain right? I mean normally I find it pretty easy, when reviewing the abstract stuff, to just drift off into meaninglessness; it’s effortless. But here, no. Peepers cannot be solely understood/passed-off on the basis of my mind bent in its direction. That said, this is what I know: 1 – Polar Bear’s got funk. Things open up kicking on “Happy For You,” and “Bap Bap Bap.” However, “Bap Bap Bap” is dual natured and a transition piece with that. Which brings me to 2 – Polar Bear’s got soul. That deep, sucking mass that hits you low and drags you down like an anchor. 3 – Polar Bear’s got imagination. Honestly, a lot of what Peepers presents feels like the classic jazz of those late greats, which is a total compliment to its fluidity and pulse, but that doesn’t mean that Polar Bear doesn’t break into some shifty, cranky, avant garde territory. “Drunken Pharaoh” dabbles expertly, straddling the line between that standard funk and falling apart. And that’s just three tracks in. Peepers is comprehensive, slick and choppy in all the right places, and quintessential for jazz fanboys and casual listeners alike. It’s an indie crossover for suresies.


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