Polar Bear's seventh album, Same As You appears barely 12 months after album number six, In Each And Every One (Leaf Label, 2014). It's far from being a "more of the same" follow-up thoughthis is a softer, more-at-peace Polar Bear sound than its predecessor, a mellower vibe.
There are just six tracks on the albumall written or co-written by drummer and producer Sebastian Rochford. Rochford gives this album a warmer and more organic feel than In Each And Every One: he mixed the album in the Mojave desert, which may or may not have influenced the outcome. There's still plenty of tenor saxophone, from Pete Wareham or Mark Lockheart, but it's mostly subsumed into the overall sound rather than being given center-stage. Leafcutter John 's electronics and occasional guitar get similar treatment. Rochford's percussion is a joy, as everflowing, gracefuland Tom Herbert's dub-style bass is its perfect partner. The result is a real feeling of Polar Bear as an ensemble, Same As You as a coherent work.
"Life, Love And Light" is co-composed by Rochford and Asar Mikael, who runs The Light Shop in Rochford's home neighbourhood of Tottenham in London. Mikael's heartfelt and life-affirming spoken word performance is the tune's central focus. "Don't Let The Feeling Go" is the album's other vocal-led track. Herbert and Rochford set up a hypnotic reggae-ish groove over which Rochford and Hannah Darling chant the titleprecisely which feeling shouldn't be let go is not made clear, but once again there's a strong feeling of good vibes and humanity on display. At just under 20 minutes in length, "Unrelenting Unconditional" might be viewed as the album's Magnum Opus. But that notion is rather too grandiose for the gentle, trace-like, composition and its coda of the vocal refrain from "Don't Let The Feeling Go." It ends Same As You in much the same fashion as "Life, Love And Light" began itwith a feeling of relaxed positivity and well-being.
Life, Love And Light; We Feel The Echoes; The First Steps; Of Hi Lands; Don't Let The Feeling Go; Unrelenting Unconditional.
Mark Lockheart: tenor saxophone; Pete Wareham : tenor saxophone; Leafcutter John: electronics, guitar; Tom Herbert : double bass; Sebastian Rochford : drums, vocals (5); Asar Mikael: spoken word (1); Hannah Darling: vocals (5).
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