Over the last 10 years, Polar Bear have marked themselves out as one of the most exciting and progressive bands of their generation. Since receiving a Mercury Music Prize nomination for Held On The Tips Of Fingers in 2005, they have continued to innovate and transcend genre, connecting with jazz, rock, hip-hop, electronic and mainstream audiences alike.
‘In Each and Every One‘ is Polar Bear’s long-awaited 5th album, the group’s first since 2010’s hugely acclaimed ‘Peepers‘. It’s certainly their boldest and most dynamic work to date. A remarkable song cycle, offering an expansive arc across deep emotional terrain, it evokes a range of atmospheres: post-industrial scrub, grimy metropolitan house parties, snowy wastelands, dark mountain gatherings.
Perhaps the defining feature of ‘In Each and Every One‘ is space. The band seems to occupy a fixed point in a vast three-dimensional setting: an electronic abyss. At times the players evaporate in a swirling mass of digital distortion, before reappearing through the mist. Saxophonists Pete Wareham and Mark Lockheart together posses a broad emotional vocabulary, yet here they appear translucent, elusive. Bassist Tom Herbert is irresistible when he plays inside the groove, but does so only occasionally, giving these moments rare power.
“The way we made this album is almost the opposite of the last record. I wanted for there to be a strong rhythmic drivethat propels it, and then sometimes for there to be the feeling of pure space. I wanted to change the roles this time too, and give everyone the most freedom ever. We hardly listened to anything in the studio as I didn’t want us to analyse what we were playing, just use our instincts.”
Rumour has it that this time Polar Bear drummer and bandleader Rochford asked electronics wizard Leafcutter John to provide the beats, while Seb himself played percussion around the edges, which may point to the source of the album’s power. There aren’t many drummer-bandleaders out there per se, even fewer willing to occupy the shadows. But there’s no mistaking Rochford’s compositional influence, nor his brooding and irrepressibly soulful playing.
For the first time, Seb produced and mixed the album himself, allowing him to express exactly the dramatic and joyful sounds he hears in his head.
“The experience of making music with these people and doing things like The Takeaway has made it clearer to me in the last year how I can be myself as a producer and trust that there are no rules, just different perspectives.”
‘In Each and Every One‘ is not just another Polar Bear record. It’s a new direction for one of the most thrilling and influential bands of the last decade.