Polysics: Polysics or Die!

Polysics or Die!

Polysics: Polysics or Die!
Label: Tofu Records
Release Date: 2004
Review Date: 3/22/05

Polysics? WTF? Couldn’t find it in the dictionary, closest thing was polysomics, which has something to do with an extra chromosome. Biology? Genetics? Can you say De-evolution? Polysics is Japan’s answer, or rather compulsive obsession with Devo. They’ve got jumpsuits, matching glasses, etc. Polysics even takes the stage to their own corporate anthem. While they may have a crush on Devo, (who doesn’t? ) Polysics doesn’t sound like Devo except if you could imagine some of Hardcore Devo if it was polished up and recorded really well. Lyrically, well at least those that are translated in to English, there isn’t much there, and a lot of it seems to be of the garden variety of picking cool sounding American words that don’t particularly mean anything. There’s a name for that, a little help please? Take Let’s Start a New Wave Jacket,’s lyrics “D.I.Y. Dead or Alive, Let’s start a new wave jacket” or For Young Electric Pop’s “Let’s format! Dead zone let’s Go!” Sometime they are pretty funny such as in XCT’s ” when I came back, my suitcase was gone. I meant it to be a practical Joke. Beginner’s English isn’t all that easy. We must work to live!” Now that’s something I can work with.

Of course not all Devo lyrics may seem that deep either, but there is always an underlying Devo-ness, so you know it’s all related, like some mongoloid Isaac Asimov series of books set to music. Polysics, on the other hand, seems to have only a superficial obsession with Devo that they solve with costume props and the occasional term lyric with the right word, like “blockhead.” Musically, they sound more like an anime soundtrack or a Japanese TV commercial. If you can imagine one of those wacky video arcade dancing games with a new wavy influence, then you’re on the right track. The vocals are a mix of Japanese and English, but even the English can be hard to understand because of the heavy affectations of Hayashi’s voice and the over use of the vocoder. Whereas you could enjoy early Shonen Knife’s less than perfect English, or the Blue Hearts’ Japanese, It’s hard ofeten hard to tell just which language that Polysics is singing in. That’s not to say that Polysics or Die! isn’t worth listening to. It’s very infectious when it’s on. Their cover of My Sharona is a crowd pleaser in the vein of Devo’s appropriation of Satisfaction. Often times they are reminiscent of the Rezillos as well.

Polysics or Die! Is sort of a compilation of sorts, featuring songs from previous releases, some of which are new recordings of slightly different versions, again the sheer frenetic energy of the songs makes them hard to analyze to closely. They are different, but not so much so that you would instantly recognize it unless playing one song after another for comparison. Polysics are a fun band to watch, but like a lot of Japanese pop culture, it’s mostly style over substance. Warning: Take in limited doses to avoid a headache. Good for those suffering from ADD. May cause epileptic seizures.

Online Action: polysics.com
Online Action: tofurecords.com

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