[sic] Magazine

Purling Hiss – Water On Mars

There no doubt comes a time in many a band’s existence when they have to decide whether to continue producing niche sounds for their extended circle and likeminded diaspora or whether to go for broke and try and actually sell some records. After four scorched garage-psyche stompers, Mike Polizze and his Purling Hiss – reputedly, not a spoonerism – have now been picked up by Drag City for an exercise in the latter, but happily Water On Mars doesn’t entirely compromise the band’s aesthetic in the process.

Inevitably, there will be some speaker-blown fanatics that bemoan this move. They may be placated by the riff crazy, mid-fi fuzz and feedback of “Lolita” – its trashy hooks, visceral sneer and hugely indulgent classic-rock guitar passages are a lot of fun. These same people however will struggle to reconcile the same Polizze that equally led the no-fi, power-blues trio Birds Of Maya with the gently psychedelic shuffles and creased, coffee-ringed slacker jams that make up most else of the Water On Mars LP.

Those tracks that do straddle the melodic fuzz divide lack a certain bite and this isn’t always compensated with sufficient charm. Polizze did always have a way with hooks though and, largely free from sonic crust and shredding, they’re allowed to shine here. The single, “Mercury Retrograde”, houses an insidious little melody reminiscent of Pavement of all things, whilst in turn “The Harrowing Wind” chugs along quite happily not unlike JEFF The Brotherhood ‘s quieter statements.

Considering Polizze and the current Purling Hiss band played with Kurt Vile a couple of albums back and Adam Granduciel of Vile’s other outfit The War On Drugs is listed here as producer, there are also far more surprising turns Purling Hiss could have made than looking to his heartland city-mates for inspiration on album closer “Mary Bumble Bee” – a very pretty, lazy-days MOR rocker in fairness.

When all is said and done though, and at the risk of sounding like that guy, it’s easy to lament the raw power and noise of Polizze’s earlier work and its presence is lacking here. Taken out of context though, Water On Mars is a nevertheless an engaging and enjoyable encounter. It’ll be interesting to see if it sells.

Advised downloads: “Lolita” and “Mary Bumble Bee”.

~Water On Mars is released 18th March 2013 on Drag City .~

Purling Hiss Lies @ bandcamp