Polar Bear: Peepers (2010)
The album begins in joyous mood, with "Happy for You," written to celebrate the arrival of saxophonist Pete Wareham's newborn baby. This mood continues through "Bap, Bap, Bap," with a deceptively simple staccato sax line that starts, unsurprisingly, with the twin tenors of Wareham and Mark Lockheart going "Bap, Bap, Bap." "Hope Every Day is a Happy New Year" finds Rochford seemingly hitting everything in the studio, while Leafcutter John adds some springy and uplifting effects as bassist Tom Herbert holds it all together. "The Love Didn't Go Anywhere" brings a more sombre mood with its beautifully atmospheric but unrelentingly sad tenor duet. The scariness comes mainly from two short improvisations, "Bump" and "Scream," both of which are credited as group compositions.
The more mysterious aspects of Peepers are found on "Want to Believe Everything"with its wonderfully loose groove, courtesy of Rochfordand the strange and wonderful "Finding Our Feet," whose Middle Eastern vibe comes from Leafcutter John's sampled and altered vocals. Both tunes have a timeless and otherworldly quality to them.
Previous Polar Bear albums have augmented the quintet with guest instrumentalists and singers; Peepers needs no such augmentation. Rochford's imaginative compositions are driven admirably by his bandmates, whose shared musical understanding enabled the entire album to be recorded in two sessions, with a real feeling of spontaneity and pleasure. Peepers is the finest Polar Bear album yet, which makes it a very fine recording indeed.
Track Listing: Happy for You; Bap Bap Bap; Drunken Pharaoh; The Love Didn't Go Anywhere; A New Morning Will Come; Peepers; Bump; Scream; Hope Every Day is a Happy New Year; Want to Believe Everything; Finding our Feet; All Here.
Personnel: Pete Wareham: tenor sax; Mark Lockheart: tenor sax; Tom Herbert: double-bass; Leafcutter John: electronics, guitar; Sebastian Rochford: drums.
Record Label: The Leaf Label
Style: Modern Jazz