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Listen To Polyester's Self-Titled Debut Album + Review

Listen To Polyester's Self-Titled Debut Album + Review

Review by Stevie Kaye / Friday 6th July, 2018 11:26AM

Auckland jangle-synth artists Polyester have unveiled their self-titled debut album today, following a captivating run of hip-shaking and heartfelt singles. The dancefloor-loving group formerly know as Kip McGrath are primed to get their groove on, with a string of release shows lined up throughout Aotearoa, kicking off the party tonight at Palmerston North's legendary venue The Stomach with buds Fruit Juice Parade and Ladders. Described a "emotional pop for glamorous weirdos," if you're quick you can cop a limited cassette edition of Polyester's stylishly catchy insta-classic. Stream their debut record below and read on for Stevie Kaye's insightful analysis...

I'd been eagerly anticipating the debut album from Auckland's Polyester ever since they released their first EP under the guise of Kip McGrath in 2015 - they managed a second EP under that moniker before "graduat[ing] from remedial maths/copyright infringement" and releasing the 'Lucky Me' / 'Ordinary Day' single late 2016. Of their earlier material, the only track to make it onto Polyester's self-titled debut is 'Out Of Control' (reborn as 'Satellite'), a deliriously ramshackle cargo cult approximation of filter-disco-era Kylie Minogue that catalogues the band's charms - Sylvia Dew's laconic, none-more-Kiwi vocals; choppy, floppy-haircut'n'sweaters funk in the vein of Postcard Records (though I imagine it's the convergent evolution of both they and Orange Juice worshipping at the altar of the Chic Organization); spangly synths and liberal use of echo; a singular deployment of myriad backing vocals to ruffle up rather than smooth over. Amelia Berry's lyrics have shifted focus from the kitchen-sink mise-en-scène of early Kip McGrath to IMAX paeans of intoxicating, heightened E•MO•TIONs - the La Vita Nuova school of love as transcendence and transformation: "I'm a whole new person", "The whole world's in love with me", "I'll take a chance with my heart."

The pairing of the burbling, bubbly 'Honey' and 'Pink's' languid bubblegum (c.f. Lesley Gore's 'Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows') evokes the Auckland indie-pop lineage running through the Gladeyes, Lil' Chief Records, Bressa Creeting Cake and the Able Tasmans; for contemporaries, there's Wellington bands like Bad Friend and prizegiving, who however approach twee from an emo rather than dancefloor perspective. Polyester's greater fluency with synths is showcased to great effect on the strutting 'So Cool' while 'Strange Emotion' nods towards the UK post-disco of Imagination's 'Just An Illusion'. They nearly pull off the vocal and instrumental gymnastics of 'Dream About Me', poise morphing into pyrotechnics (and making me half-wish they'd committed to a full-on Roxette or Steinman-style power ballad), but it's hard to fault Polyester for their ambition, and hopefully their production nous will catch up to the sophistication of their arrangements - there's a slight clash in values between D.I.Y.'s generosity of gesture/echo and the more unforgiving sonic architecture of dancefloor functionality. This particular needle has been threaded before - take the quixotic mixture of Balearic effervescence and wry modesty of early Saint Etienne - but it's a high-wire balancing act.

They save the best for last with 'Different For A Boy', a shimmering, plaintive ballad and self-described trans anthem that effortlessly shifts registers between the specific ("Don't furrow your brow, you're looking so cryptic") and soaring universals ("the rush inside, this double-dealing"). Give this the Silver Scroll, you cowards!

Stevie Kaye is a Wellington-based music writer and DJ.


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Polyester Album Release Party
Sat 14th Jul 9:00pm
darkroom, Christchurch
Polyester Album Release Party
Fri 27th Jul 8:00pm
Whammy Bar, Auckland