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Album Review

Polvo, 'In Prism'

October 5, 2009

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Rock
Polvo In Prism
Merge
ESSENTIAL “Beggar’s Bowl’’

“I’m taking my time to straighten out the tangles,’’ Ash Bowie croons two songs into “In Prism,’’ but we all know the lead singer of Polvo doesn’t really mean it. While the math-rock outfit has certainly taken its sweet time (12 years) reuniting for a fifth album, the band seems to have no intention of tidying up its novel blend of dissonant guitars, herky-jerky polyrhythms and Eastern-influenced harmonics. Sure, the production is a bit more polished, with the previously prickly guitars playing a less overwhelming role in the mix, but Polvo still punches out some noisy, nuanced rockers, from the thumping bass of “Beggar’s Bowl’’ to the clanging midtempo love note “Lucia.’’ Bowie’s thinning voice is no detriment to tracks like “The Pedlar,’’ a surf-metal stomper that reverently twists the riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days.’’ Though it’s beyond tired to call the group’s guitars “angular,’’ they do certainly splinter and crackle from all directions - witness the nine-minute opus “A Link in the Chain’’ as it shifts nimbly from psych-rock feedback to squiggly “Little Wing’’-style reverb. A couple of the meandering instrumentals fade into the woodwork, but in general “In Prism’’ proves a formidable (if long-overdue) return to the studio. See you guys in 2021? (Out now)

ADAM CONNER-SIMONS