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Prior to releasing Polara's major-label debut, C'est la Vie, Interscope played on completists' insatiable hunger for B-sides and ephemera: Taking a cue from U.K. chart requirements, the label released the album's first single, Pantomime, in two different formats (CD EP and 10") with different track lists. Combining the "next big thing" status that electronica was enjoying, a progressive political sensibility, and a love of cavernously huge-sounding production with the conventions of alternative rock, the Pantomime CD is a pretty good EP of edits and outtakes from a nominally successful album. Frontman Ed Ackerson was apparently looking to strike hot iron with C'est la Vie by capitalizing on the electro craze. His design? To construct the first great classic-sounding electronic/rock record (something that Radiohead would succeed rather deftly at about two years later). Unfortunately, the album -- and consequently the EP --sounds flat and half-baked, a trap that many major-label debuts fall into unwittingly. The EP isn't without merit: Polara is a great band that's fun to listen to even when it's missed its mark, but after a few spins this EP begins to wear out its welcome. Chalk it up to a case of the sophomore slump or simply an error in judgment, but Ed Ackerson and Polara are much more talented than they demonstrate on Pantomime.

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