[Ionik; 2007]

Styles: electro-acoustic folk songs
Others: Tunng, The Notwist, early Death Cab for Cutie

POLA is one of those musical collectives with a shifting lineup of members who dabble in a plethora of projects. The group’s prior projects include writing scores for several theater and dance pieces in Italy, where principal composer Tazio Iacobacci lives and works. In addition to the theater work, the group has also crafted an electro-acoustic identity for itself, which it has subsequently showcased at a few electronic music festivals. That’s the incarnation of POLA on display in this self-titled debut, a brisk little record of simple folk ditties with some electronic textures and inflections. Opening track “Twenty Years Ago” is emblematic as any: plain, unassuming guitar figures stroll through blippy beats and hushed vocals for a few minutes until the whole piece fades into samples of crickets chirping and children playing.

The only problem with this approach is that it’s been done and done and done. These songs don’t make any real missteps, but that’s in part because they aren’t taking any new ones. The melodies aren’t memorable enough for the pieces to survive as pop numbers, but the writing isn’t inventive enough for compositional surprises to sustain them as genre experiments. Don’t get me wrong, the middle ground POLA stakes out sounds quite nice, but if you’ve been paying attention to indie pop for the last five years or so, you’ve heard, in all likelihood, at least four or five other records a whole lot like this one. My patience for this particular sort of genre exercise has been exhausted, but others may hopefully find more lasting charms herein.

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