Polar the new EP from UK melodic post hardcore band Late Night Fiction is one of those slow burners which needs a little extra time to unveil and expose its excellence. From receiving an initial appreciative nod without truly understanding its intent the release evolves into a stirring and perpetually intriguing gem. To be honest it never quite manages to ignite any ferocious or lingering fires within but is without doubt one of the more interesting and appetising releases of the genre and UK rock in general this year.
Late Night Fiction formed in 2007 as an acoustic duo of vocalist guitarist Phill Morris and guitarist James Thompson. Their need and desire for a heavier sound led to the addition in 2009 of bassist Reece Britton and ex-Alison Angus drummer Josh Meredith. Drawing on influences like Biffy Clyro, Yourcodenameis:milo, Hell is for Heroes and Brand New, the Hull based quartet released their debut EP Hands & Numbers the same year to strong responses. Shows with the likes of Grammatics and the Xcerts followed as well as sessions for BBC Introducing and their first single Horsefight. Since then the band has gone from strength to strength with this year alone already seeing the band playing alongside Twin Atlantic, , Dinosaur Pile Up, Flood of Red, run, WALK!, and Sucioperro. It has also seen Nat Lawson taking over with the sticks though Meredith is the man building the impressive song frameworks on the EP.
Released on their own Grey Man Records, Polar does not take too long into first song Black Watch to show that beneath the aggressive and high charged melodic scorching the band is not interested in merely making tidy, unassuming, and predictable music. This ensures songs which are at times volatile and insistently dynamic but also adventurous and continually surprising. The opener alone marks the songwriting as thoughtful yet unafraid to venture beyond its expected borders, something refreshing certainly in a genre which seemingly is veering towards wearing predictability as a uniform. The song ruptures the air with its first notes through striking and hungry guitars alongside openly earnest clean and shouting vocals. As the track surges with twisting switches from thrashing almost venomous intent to restrained melodic elegance which has its seeds in the acoustic intricacies from the roots of the band, it is a refreshing journey which leaps and gently strolls alternatively and persistently across the senses. It does not get the blood surging through veins and the heart running fast but it certainly has one engrossed and grinning with delight.
The outstanding Exits, Pursued By A Bear steps into view next upon delicious atmospheric guitar weaves, their gait warming the air even with the exposure of coarse vocal grimaces within the otherwise smooth emotive delivery. As the song spreads its arms the bass of Britton virtually swaggers within the brewing ambience generated whilst Meredith leaves one on the verge of punch drunk with his powerful jabbing beats. Another exercise in musical adventure punctuated with explosions of incendiary energy and burning melodic intrusions, the song is a masterful piece leaving one deeply satisfied and with a desperate need to dive right back in to its heart to discover more of its textures and veiled invention.
The excellent and expressive instrumental Smashy “Smashy Beast” Beast is just the band laying out their musical ability and vision to wonderful effect, the dramatic and highly tensioned heart of the song much more than a mere interlude between the other tracks.
Dialetics and Relax Please complete the line-up of songs to equal and impressive success. The first is more restrained than the other tracks but has a rawness to rile up emotions just as effectively adding further variation and imagination to the songwriting whilst the latter is a seven minute encapsulation of what the band is about, its presence an inciteful and compulsive exploration of their limits. Though arguably the least accessible song it has the most depth and imaginative canvas for thoughts and emotions to play with on the EP. It also has a melodic hook at times which shouts out Altered Images, but do not let that put you off.
Polar is an exceptional release which just requires some fuller attention before it truly shows its qualities. The rewards though are very satisfying and with the album Ethics scheduled for late 2012, Late Night Fiction is a band to watch very carefully.
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