Published Sep 04, 2009Less than two years after releasing their first full-length (2008's Sometimes Things Just Disappear), Polar Bear Club have come storming back with sophomore effort Chasing Hamburg. The New York band had a ton of post-hardcore expectations loaded upon their shoulders with this release. With many of the genre's founders broken up (Small Brown Bike, Hot Water Music), fans were hungry for a band that could make honest, thoughtful, aggressive music. At times, Chasing Hamburg is especially heavy, such as on album-opener "See The Wind." However, the band have also taken time to work tighter structures and more melody into their songs. This is apparent in "Light of Local Eyes" and album closer "Chasing Hamburg," which ends with such strength that it's almost unfair to the listener. It's the more melodic tracks with moments of aggression peppered throughout that show Polar Bear Club at their best. While the band may still not have written their best album (at times, Chasing Hamburg allows itself to become a mix of underwhelming moments), Chasing Hamburg is more than a satisfactory stop on the road, and an exciting journey in itself.
You're being talked about by many as the next great post-hardcore band, following in the footsteps of Small Brown Bike and Hot Water Music. Do you feel any pressure from that?
Drummer Emmett Menke: Not really. The most pressure on us comes from ourselves. Obviously our band have gotten to a level where we have expectations. We take it a lot more seriously now. If anything, it has made us more independent and instead of us carrying the torch, to possibly become more Polar Bear Club. Two years from now, I would like people to think we are our own band. Without those bands, our band could not be what it is. They carved a niche that we are definitely in but we have grown as musicians and friends. A lot has changed in the last year.
Since the last album, you've been at the cusp of being able to pursue music full-time. How does Chasing Hamburg play into that?
The last year, we have been touring non-stop. It's one of those things where it became stupid to not do it full-time. It gets to the point where I can't afford to do it part-time. You're working or in school and building debt. When we had the opportunity to go full-time and get a booking agent, and got offers from different labels and tours, we thought we could do this and hit the ground running. It hasn't been financially successful. In a couple of years, we'd be lucky if we have paid off our band debts. (Bridge Nine)