Reviewer: Brody B
- Steering Me From Regret
- Vow to Run
- No Connection
- Dark Door
- Vacant Light
- Lose in the Summer
- Where Did You Come From
- Something Changed
- Woke Up On A Highway
Fans of Mark Nicks and Cool Hand Luke have eagerly been awaiting the next musical endeavor from the vocalist. Polyvalent is the brainchild of Nicks and former Quiet Science member, Robbie Williamson.
Fans of Cool Hand Luke will instantly grasp on to Mark Nicks familiar crooning. The delivery of the vocals and the music which accompanies them are quite different from what long time fans may have expected. The fan-funded album explores darker, more personal musical soundscapes that sound reminiscent to Starflyer 59 rather than the more “indie” feel of Cool Hand Luke. That being said, the name Polyvalent is perfect for the band due to the nearly impossible feat of pigeon-holing the duo into a genre.
The dreamy opening guitar plucking and growling bass line that begin Steering Me From Regret make a great pair; one that listeners should familiarize themselves with as these are the prominent instruments on the album. Nicks hauntingly croons, “I’m guilty of living in the past” in the magnificent opener of the album.
Andalusia is a more upbeat track that will have listeners playing air drums on their steering wheel while nodding their heads to the mesmerizing bass lines. The bridge to the song is a great buildup that allows the listener a change of pace before plunging back into the mix.
Vow to Run has one of the strongest choruses on the album, allowing Nicks to showcase his vocal talent very well. The honesty of the lyrics is also incredibly striking within it’s honesty, “I wanna hide cause it’s easy/Pretend that no one can see me/It’s hard to control the narrative/If I don’t know how the story ends/I made a vow just to keep on running/The going’s tough, so the weak go running/But that’s not how the story ends/I’m written into a narrative/That’s bigger than me/And my fear of the curse”.
My personal favorite, and perhaps the most straightforward track on the album, Lose in the Summer picks up the energy after a slower song, Vacant Light. Lose in the Summer has an indie rock feel with energetic vocals, thumping bass, hi-hat heavy drums, and slick guitar work. The chorus is infectious and will be in the listeners head for hours, as Nicks proclaims, “We don’t really know/What we want/We think that we know/What we want/We don’t really know/What we want/But we’ll spend ourselves to get it/Then we can’t do nothing with it/We’ll leave it all behind”
Woke Up On A Highway is a heartbreaking, yet fitting way to end “Want”. The track is about Nick Mark’s father passing away and begins in a very sombre tone, focusing mostly on mellow keyboards and steady percussion. Once the chorus comes around for the second time, reverb layered guitar comes shining through as well as bass. Nicks adds heart breaking lyrics to the last verse as he admits to his father, “I know that you are weary/With these feelings of regret/Though I forgave you long ago/You just can’t do it yet/I have so many questions/I have so much to say/I don’t want to say it too soon/But I’m so afraid to wait/I wish you could meet my children/And see me graduate/I wish we’d climbed that mountain/But now it’s just too late/If I could give you anything/Then it would be the peace/That Jesus loves you even more than you and Mom love me”.
The only thing that took away from the experience of “Want” was I felt the album to be a bit repetitive at times. Certain tracks seemed to rely on the chorus being repeated a few too many times to make up for a lack of verses. On songs that didn’t have particularly strong choruses, this caused things to drag on slightly.
Overall: I realize this review has been a long time coming, however the music presented on “Want” is still very much relevant and deserves the utmost attention from fans of indie music. Nick Marks and Robbie Williamson make a great comeback to the music industry, and though it may not be what fans expect, it is perhaps better than they ever could have dreamed. If this album does not click with you instantly, please hit the repeat button and give this album another listen, there is something new to find with each listen!
RIYL: Cool Hand Luke | Quiet Science | Starflyer 59 | The Strokes