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Los Angeles, California indie pop duo Polaris Rose has been steadily making a name for itself both locally and abroad. “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” is the band’s latest and sees Maddelynn Elise and Peter Anthony Ewen enhancing their breezy, lighthearted pop/rock with ambient electronics and swanky lounge elements. The album continues the duo’s ocean-centric musings on love, life, and the carelessness of youth. To our continuing bepuzzlement Polaris Rose hasn’t attracted the attention any music label yet despite the obvious marketability of their breezy, beach-flavored rocking indie pop. That notwithstanding “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” is a logical and cohesive continuation of “Telescopes” and “OceanSongs”.

Continuing their penchant for writing sweet little pop/rock songs with instantly memorable hooks the vocal harmonies on “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” are more engaging and engrossing than on any prior record. The recognizable playful melodies sound instantly familiar and there’s a greater prominence for Peter’s guitar soloing. On the whole “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” sounds breezier, more upbeat and surprisingly more rock-oriented than any of the duo’s prior recordings. The inclusion of lounge enhancements and light electronics are both expected and welcomed as they greatly add to the sunny, carefree demeanour that is the bread and butter of the duo’s music. “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” is breezier and poppier than any of the duo’s prior recordings, but Polaris Rose always remains an indie pop/rock band at heart. This new record is poppier but never forsakes its roots.

While the vocal interplay between Maddie and Peter has always been one of their greatest strenghts on “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” the duo has outdone itself in that aspect. ‘That Lonely Road’ and ‘Astro Boy’ are custodian to some of the album’s best vocal harmonies and Maddie’s vocals are stronger and more emotive than before. The diminished presence of Peter, purely supportive in these tracks, allow Maddie to showcase her range as a singer. Alternatively, ‘The Great Western Highway’ - one of the band’s signature fragile little ballads, replete with an acoustic guitar - is Peter’s moment in the spotlight. Obvious both Peter and Maddie each have a voice worthy of its own project, but combined they are used to far greater effect. ‘TigerBait’ and ‘Soda Jerk’ are the poppiest of the bunch, with the former functioning as the album’s lead single and the latter being more of a stylistic companion piece. ‘Tell Me All Your Secrets’ is vintage Polaris Rose through and through. It is the prequisite rock number in vein of ‘Perfect View’, ‘Cityscapes’ or ‘Hurricanes’. In other words “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” has something for everyone.

For “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” Peter and Maddie recorded at Vibrant Productions in California. As with past records the studio drums were handled by Kiel Feher, with Carlos Beltran stepping in for live performances. In comparison to prior records there’s a considerably greater bass presence on “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” as well as a more defined, crispier guitar tone. Polaris Rose always understood the importance of warm-sounding production values even though “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” doesn’t differ too much from prior excursions in that respect. The album was mixed at Vox Recording Studio in Los Angeles by John Spiker and mastered by Eric Boulanger at The Bakery in Culver City, Los Angeles. The artwork and layout are in Polaris Rose' signature collage style and instantly recognizable as such. It truly is wonderful to have a band, pop or otherwise, remain this consistent for so long.

As Los Angeles, California’s most promising indie pop duo Polaris Rose has consistently proven to be worthy of all accolades bestowed on them. It’s nothing short of puzzling that the duo hasn’t yet been courted by any of the major labels. “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” continues the growth of the duo and proves that the best music is to be found in the independent circuit. Polaris Rose is the perfect fusion of Colbie Caillat beach pop and American FM rock. If there was any justice in the world Polaris Rose would be travelling the biggest stages of the world with their music. Alas that is not the case and Polaris Rose continue to be an undiscovered gem stuck in their regional scene. Perhaps for the best, as an undiluted Polaris Rose is far better than anything on the radio today.



Los Angeles pop duo Polaris Rose set the world alight earlier in the year with the exciting “Ocean Songs” EP. “Telescopes”, the duo’s long-awaited full length effort, finally arrives after the advance single ‘Perfect View’. The album picks up where “Ocean Songs” left off, while keeping its established elements in place. “Telescopes” further refines the fragile beach pop/rock sound they did so well on the earlier EP, but is less overly rock-oriented and more breezy in comparison to its very promising direct predecessor.

‘Perfect View’, the heart-stopping lead single for the record, like most of the songs on the album, puts a greater emphasis on stirring vocal harmonies than the dueting of the earlier EP. Even though the record itself is less hook-oriented there’s a great presence of guitar melodies and acrobatics. The melody in ‘Radio XYZ’ is one of the best the duo has written to date. Notable is that Madelynn’s bass guitar has lost in prominence in favor of a more breezy sound that focuses on guitar melodies, and Peter Anthony’s vocals. Likewise, Elyse’s vocal presence, at least in terms of sheer volume, seems to be dialed down. Thankfully her full bass guitar tone remains intact. ‘Cityscapes’ is custodian to an electrifying (and unexpected) set of guitar solos that wouldn’t feel out of place on a full-blown rock record. As light and breezy as “Telescopes” tends to get it never falls into the kind of vapidity of mainstream popular music, neither sounds it as manufactured.

As was the case with the earlier release of the duo it’s hard not to get swept away in visions of sunshine, beaches and the laidback lifestyle where California is sometimes associated with. Polaris Rose exudes its home region without specifically emphasizing it in its music. It wouldn’t take a stretch of the imagination to eventually hear the band integrate ska elements at one point or the other. A recurring topic in the band’s music is its love for oceans, and coastlines. The lyrics, the scourge of popular music at large, deal with the expected subjects of love, emotions, the carefreeness of youth, and infatuation but avoid the syrupy saccharinity one would usually associate with the pop genre. In a lot of ways Polaris Rose use simple melodies in the way Coldplay did on its early records. Simplicity is, above all else, Polaris Rose most identifiable strength. Even though “Telescopes” has more electronic enhancements catchy pop/rock songs are still what the band is all about. The light electronics are purely cosmetic, and supportive.

The harmonies, and vocal lines have grown in leaps and bounds, even if they come at the expense of Elyse’s presence. It would be interesting to hear Polaris Rose with Elyse in the lead vocal slot, or to just have a few more songs where her vocal presence is more of the focal point. ‘Kiss Me, Icarus’ and ‘A Diamond In the Sunset’ do just that, and the results are expectedly wonderful. While the band is squarely on the lighter end of the pop/rock spectrum “Telescopes” doesn’t have a ballad (or even a power ballad) to speak of, although several songs have sections that would quality under those criterions. In comparison to its immediate predecessor the only track that remotely breaks from tradition is ‘Set Me On Fire’ which opens with a trudging, almost Black Sabbath-like main riff and melody. Sprinkled through out the record are the type of guitar melodies that can be heard on any of the latter-day Red Hot Chili Peppers albums. The majority of the record however breathes the Californian spirit from its every pore.


“Telescopes” is lighter in its writing, and the tempo remains in a steady midpace. The alternative rock influence that was present on “Ocean Songs” has been excised for an altogether lighter guitar-oriented pop variant that is equally as powerful. None of the songs are built around specific hooks, but each has a recognizable chorus or melody. Each of the songs usually contain one or two breaks that either emphasize the song’s melody or its chorus. Avoiding the usual saccharinity and vapidness of mainstream popular music Polaris Rose is the perfect piece of music to kick off your weekend. To give the album the required push two singles were released with ‘Perfect View’ and ‘Cityscapes’, for both cuts music videos were produced/shot. In all “Telescopes” combines the breeziness of pop with the crunch of a California rock band, the fact that it is just slightly more alternative (or sub-pop, if you will) makes it all the more appealing.