The debut album from Londoners PolSky is called “Executive Functions” and is a record full of non-conventionally composed tracks that mix elements of Darkwave, Synthpop, and Alternative rock. The result is what feels like a brand new style of ‘Dance Rock’ that makes the band sound so unique and fresh, and I’ll be dissecting these tracks today to show you what makes each of them great.
The album begins with the short intro Welcome To PolSky Corp which has a lot of ambient sounds from a company office (some Dunder Mifflin vibes there) and phone calls being made. It slowly fades into the first full track, Switchboard Operator, which has some jiggly dancy drum and bass lines coupled with cool vocals and distorted guitars. The synth sound and the dance vibe of the track will remind you of bands like The Cure and Siouxsie and The Banshees, but the band’s vocals and guitars give them a distinct flavor that you can’t really compare or liken to other artists. The second track, Rounds, is my favorite track on the entire album as it has a cool bass line and it maintains that fine balance between being melodic and percussive. You will probably dance, sway, headbang, or move in any way while listening to its moving and heartfelt chorus and 80s-nostalgic guitars. The brilliance of this track for me, is in the effect and the techniques with which the vocals were recorded: every detail is clear, the backing and harmony layers are complementing the lead layer, and the emotional impact is present in every note the vocalist sings. That’s how you do vocals.
After that, we have the track 100 Million Ways To Die, which was previously released with a music video. The track screams the late 80s and early 90s dark synthpop vibes with similarities to Joy Division and The Cure once again, but the electronic percussion and the advanced recording techniques make it more futuristic-sounding and more in touch with the band’s own style rather than copying someone else’s work. This track has a brilliant bridge section before the band recharge their guitars and hit us one last time with the chorus and outro that got me headbanging violently in my room. The following track, Culture, has a somewhat similar vibe to its predecessor as if it’s a sequel or a later part of the same movie’s soundtrack for example…it’s a beautiful number with a very unique bass guitar pattern. Towards its bridge and ending the song changes things up with a more ethereal and resonant vocal style that I wasn’t expecting at all…what a brilliant and unpredictable change once again. Song For The Silver Surfer starts out as a ballad with nostalgic warm tones on the clean guitars, a piano, and some soft airy emotional vocals to go along with them. The song feels like a eulogy, and the whistling portion in its ending tore my heart to shreds. It’s followed by the acoustic interlude called ‘Apocalypse Now (Ode To Cracky) which was a much-needed change of pace from the emotional rollercoaster of the previous track.
Halycon Daze has some fast-paced drums and high-pitched vocals that change up the elements to deviate more towards beach rock and electronic rock. The singer shows a great range an amazing technique of seamlessly switching back and forth between chest voice and head voice. The following track, At The Cinema, has some RnB vibes and soulful emotional singing to go along with it. I really love how the emotions change up with the lyrics and singing to match the changing vibes of the music. You could fit this song in a soft rock or soul playlist and no one would notice its made by a band that plays different tracks, and at the same time, it fits the album itself and is very well in touch with the other songs’ styles…it’s amazing how they can do that. Cupboard Love is groovy and dance-inducing just like some previous tracks here, but it has deep and grounded vocals and a bigger role for the keys/synths and piano. After that, we have Nimbus Cumulus which is a progressive rock number with a lot of Anathema/Pink Floyd vibes that will stick with you because of its dreamy vibe. The album’s closing track, Rainbow Road, has some very interesting keyboards and an electronic vibe with some minor folk-ish influences and a cool arrangement that will remind you of Radiohead. It’s the most beautiful way you could close such an album.
In conclusion, this album blends Rock with post-punk and electronic elements in a way that feels natural and spontaneous, it’s almost as if this mix has existed forever and dance rock was always a thing while in reality, it’s just PolSky‘s amazing songwriting skills that got them to make the record in this complete and cohesive way. Considering it’s their debut album too, if you pass it by any of your friends they will think it’s the 9th or 10th album from a 90s Alternative band. It’s professional, ethereal, and emotionally balanced in a way that you won’t know unless you listen to it in full. I recommend this to all rock fans because there are bits and pieces of every subgenre here that will make you love it.