Polar Bear Club

Clash Battle Guilt Pride

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Clash Battle Guilt Pride is all of the good that fans have come to expect from Rochester's Polar Bear Club. Melodic yet roughed up, earnest but tough, they stack the emotion high without sacrificing any of the crashing drums and dynamic guitars. The lines of their punk rock come sharper and more tightly executed this time around, though, even as producer Brian McTernan helps to inject more rock power and shine. Polar Bear Club never get lost within the extra sheen, however, since their ever-present hardcore backbone continues to keep things grounded and sincere. The start-stop opening rocker "Pawner" proclaims "I've gotta take my grab at something great," desperate-sounding words from hoarse bellower Jimmy Stadt that help to set the record's tone. It's an album woven with reflections on getting older and how relationships, goals, and personal beliefs can change with time. These introspective musings are delivered in a largely explosive package, of course, and Polar Bear Club leave not one track to be a toss-away -- from the churning melodicism of "Screams in Caves" to the straight-ahead rock of "My Best Days" and "Religion on the Radio" to the wistful yet potent "I'll Never Leave New York." That last song has a partner in "3/4 Tango," whose narrative conveys a sense of hunger and longing, as slow-burning rhythms push the song forward into a striking chorus. Clash Battle Guilt Pride digs deeper with each listen, especially thanks to a maturity that gives Stadt's sandpapered lyrics more emotional pull, makes the songs more memorable, and ultimately, begs just one more listen.

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