It’s really hard to believe that two of the best noise rock albums to come out are over twenty-five years old. But with 1992’s Cor-Crane Secret and 1993’s Today’s Active Lifestyles, they’re just that. The classic albums from Chapel Hill’s Polvo were well ahead of their time when they were released and even more so in the fact that they still sound modern today. While it’s well known that the band influenced a ton of acts who came after them, even the band’s live shows were always worth making it out for. In fact, my favorite show of all time featured Polvo and Unwound. Now Merge Records has decided to reissue both albums on Peak vinyl coming in February, so a whole new generation can discover the magic of the band’s sound at their peak.
The magic here comes in how the band constructed their music. Almost like a dizzying array of tones that came out of an ashram, the opening track “Vibracobra” sets the stage for the noisy tones that will follow. The pure art of arrangement with “Can I Ride” and “Ox Scapula” proved that Polvo was ahead of everyone else while not even caring that grunge was a big deal.
This album, possibly the biggest streaming album of the band’s career is just as insane. The mix of de-tuned guitars and bombastic drums that get undercut with woozy bass is something else. Songs like the ever-changing “Thermal Treasure” take you for a loop. “Sure Shot” has such an inevitable likeness to it while “Action Vs. Vibe” takes the genre to new spaces. But what’s different with this album is the moments where Polvo comes close to dropping hooks and melodies. “My Kimono” has enough resonance and catchy tone that it could become your favorite song where “Gemini Cusp” sounds like a Pavement melody coming from one of J. Mascis’ blown Marshall cabinets.
Both albums are available to preorder directly from Merge Records on new colorways and packaging before their February 28 release. They can also be bundled through the Merge Born Under a Good Sign subscription. All of the information is available here.
Image Credits: Photo by John Falls.