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About 11 songs into listening to Polish Club’s 14-track debut album, Alright Already, I had a fair idea of what I was going to say about it. At that point, I thought the album was pretty good. Good for the way it pushes and pulls listeners through different realms of rock genres with ease; namely alternative, punk, garage and even a touch of surf. Good, because of the way this Sydney duo use just a guitar and drums to make such thrashing, intense and, most importantly, memorable sounds. Good, because lead singer Novak has such a gritty and passionate voice that you are commanded to listen whether you like it or not. And good, because, frankly, up until song 11, Alright Already does just about everything that you want an album of this genre to do, leaving you feeling quite satisfied.
Hence, my initial review was going to dub the album ‘pretty good.’
On the former part of the record, standout tracks such as ‘Beat Up’, ‘Whatchuknow’ and ‘Why Should I’ are pulsing and intense, offering up the kind of classic Polish Club noise that we’ve come to know and love. But then, the sound of the album begins to sway, and it starts to become apparent that this is more than just a good rock album.
There’s a clever and bold genre twist on the last few tracks. Song 12, named ‘Divided,’ is a stripped-back, slow burner, whose change in mood and pace will catch your ear. Churning away beautifully before building up to an intense finish, it’s certainly endearing to have a raw, ballad-style track come out after a slew of blistering, grimy bangers.
Things shift a little more in the next song, ‘My Delight.’ Guitars, claps and shakes work alongside Novak’s soulful voice on the folky track and it’s here that you start to feel like this isn’t meant to be a pure rock ‘n’ roll album at all. The genre shake-up doesn’t feel completely out of place, either. Indeed it’s refreshing to hear this band play with their sound – particularly on a debut release, where it’s all too easy to play it safe.
But it’s album closer ‘Red River Rock’, a cover of 1950-60s rockers Johnny and The Hurricanes, that is the real burst of genre experimentation on this record. Although you can hear Polish Club’s distinct sound cut through on this cover, at first, it’s jarring to hear. Chirpy and celebratory – like an ode to the kind of old-school rock that might have influenced Polish Club – it’s a massive shift from the band’s heavier output. But that’s not to say it isn’t fab, and it will certainly get you smiling.
It’s a bold and creative move by Polish Club to round out their debut album in such a way. They could have left the record at 11 songs, playing it safe with a good rock album that hit all the classic benchmarks and tropes. But instead, they’ve graced us with a highly original, daring release in Alright Already, which should be admired. Ultimately, this debut record is better than good. It’s bloody great.