Remember 1994? That was when alternative rock RULED the charts and the cash registers, man! Buzz Clips and Sub Pop bands on MTV, Blur and Oasis duking it out across the Atlantic, Lollapalooza turning a profit…1994 was alt rock all the way!
Snow Patrol remembers 1994 quite well. Too well, in fact, because the band’s Songs for Polarbears is a carbon copy of everything you saw and heard on 120 Minutes back in the day. Hell, without a list of band members, you can listen to Polarbears and pretend it’s a big celebrity jam like the Backbeat soundtrack!
Here’s what you get: The guitar strumming that kicks off the opener sounds like a sample from Sebadoh’s Bakesale! And then, after the bombastic, moderately humorous and overly clichéd “single,” “Starfighter Pilot,” a voice just like that of Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate shows up to sing a Blur song, called “The Last Shot Ringing In My Ears!”
But wait, it gets better! “Absolute Gravity” mixes loud guitars with turntable scratching to combine rock and hip-hop, just like the Judgment Night soundtrack! And “Get Balsamic Vinegar…Quick You Fool” is driven by a thundering, boring, unecessary bass line, just like a song by Cop Shoot Cop! And you also get Smashing Pumpkins balladry on “NYC,” and a song that I’ll bet Hole wrote, called “Days Without Paracetamol!”
And don’t think Snow Patrol lacks a sense of humor…there are lots of “funny” lyrics like “I don’t want to hurt her feelings / But she’s a crazy fucked up bitch.” Take that, girls! And, after the band has ripped off the entire Alternative Nation, they do a song called “Velocity Girl” and it DOESN’T sound like the band! Great gag, guys!
Oh, I almost forgot…since Songs for Polarbears came out in 1998 in the U.K., there are bonus tracks tacked onto the new North American release which capture all the bands that Snow Patrol forgot to tackle the first time around! A wannabe Stephen Malkmus mumbles through “Holy Cow,” and it sounds like Green Day’s bringing the rock on the generic pop-punk of “Sticky Teenage Twin.” It’s like the last five years never happened! And the other three bonus tracks? They sound just like some band you’ve already heard too…