This is the first of what will, hopefully, be a series of reviews of excellent records lost to the mists of time. Some were later found again, like this particular record, the self-titled debut by Polyrock.
Polyrock was a post-punk/new wave band from New York City with a distinctive minimalist flair, owing in no small part to the involvement of Phillip Glass in production and performance. I suppose the closest parallel to Polyrock would be early Talking Heads, somewhere around More Songs About Buildings and Food, though the approach is totally different. Polyrock’s music was pattern-based, usually with a driving, mechanical drum beat, while Talking Heads were more open and conventionally pop in their arrangements.
The album starts with “Romantic Me”, a nervous new wave love song that instantly should call to mind both “Psycho Killer” and DEVO’s “Girl U Want“. Opening with a long synth tone, the track brings in a crunching guitar riff which is quickly thrown aside for a simple, easily repeated chord pattern. “Green for Go” has one of the catchiest synthesizer hooks I’ve ever heard, and it doesn’t get boring no matter how often it’s repeated. “This Song” is reminiscent of Suburban Lawns (who will get their own review in time), particularly the wordless female background vocals. “Go West” is a rapid-fire synth assault over a tight rhythm section, and “No Love Lost” is the closest thing to a ballad a band like this could pull off. It works well.
Glass’s production is simple, much like the structures of the music. Synthesizers tend to take the lead, but the mix is clear, and stereo effects are used sparingly, but to great effect. Headphones are recommended.
Sadly, the record is a bit front-loaded. Some of the other songs are a bit forgettable, though the approach and repetition work well. No band before, or since has approached rock in such a unique fashion. Fortunately, Polyrock’s first two records, Polyrock and Changing Hearts (which features an excellent cover of The Beatles’s “Rain”) were recently remastered and put out on CD. No bonus tracks, but the albums sound incredible.