I Am the Polish Army – My Old Man
The challenging journey of translating life’s experiences into song for vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Emma DeCorsey informs each of the eight tracks on I Am the Polish Army’s first full length effort My Old Man. The project has underwent a number of conceptual variations since DeCorsey first considered forming the band and what direction the music might take in 2006, but her introduction to drummer Eric Kuby and bassist Turner Stough solidified her groping for the sound she heard in her head into something much more tangible and befitting the emotional ups and downs of her life’s trajectory. The trio revamped the eight compositions DeCorsey envisioned including on the debut into a recognizable shape and recast them in the mold of material listeners might be familiar with from bands like The Breeders and Veruca Salt. The increased emphasis on guitars and added emotional heft transformed the songwriting into something much more dramatic and powerful than ever before.
The spartan leanness of the opening for “You Don’t Know”, powered by evocatively recorded and reverb-laced guitar, sets a perfect stage for the mid-tempo meander kicking in soon after. There’s a cawing, slightly embittered quality in DeCorsey’s vocals retaining its steadiness even as the musical intensity rises and its inexorable push eschews in virtuoso trips in favor of simply getting over with the listener. “Dead Bowie” is powered by tightly wound, propulsive drum work and slightly dissonant guitar during the song’s first half before DeCorsey and her musical partners ratchet up the musical heat. The lyrics reflect on the glut of bandwagon jumpers often following the death of an icon and how, invariably, the hamfisted imitations and tributes have no real bearing on the legacy of those deceased figures. The raucous “Throat” goes for more of a straight forward guitar rock attack and chronicles DeCorsey’s experience with domestic abuse..It isn’t self-pitying or enraged, however; instead, it burns with the same indefatigable spirit listeners might imagine went into making this album possible and pulls back at just the right times for added dramatic effect.
“Setup” has a chunky and meaty guitar riff introduces the song before the clutter disappears on the verses. Eric Kuby’s drumming proves, once again, to be a crucial musical lynchpin for the album as a whole and the production captures his performances in such a way that his power, fluidity, and immediacy are impossible to ignore. There’s quite a bit of swagger present in “The Woods” and DeCorsey’s vocal melody wisely shapes itself around the enormous guitars while the abum’s penultimate track, “Gene”, does a superb job of coupling bright and expansive guitar chords with quieter passages creating quite a dynamic touch for the song. The laconic approach DeCorsey takes to some of her vocals are quite appealing and work particularly well on this song. “My Old Man”, the title song, has a lot of musical firepower and resembles the preceding song in some key ways, namely how it alternates muted passages with blasts of unbridled intensity. My Old Man is a relatively brief collection by modern standards, but it makes quite a substantial musical and lyrical statement.
9 out of 10 stars