Although Polyphia are just releasing their first album, this fine group of young men have already shown the world that they are more than capable musicians, writing thoughtful, head-bobbingly good tunes that would give even the most proliferated talents cause for concern. With their debut album, Muse, the boys in Polyphia showcase their strengths to great effect; eleven tracks replete with leads, grooves, and oodly-noodly enjoyment.
From the first moments of “87,” to the final notes of the aptly-named “Finale,” Muse is an entertaining romp of the musical imagination, as each track flows to the next. Though not an instrumental concept album in that each track weaves into the other, there is a certain finesse in how the album progresses and makes you feel with each passing second. You will nod your head, tap your feet, beat your fingers on your knee—you’ll do it all as you listen to Muse, as each song gently caresses your ear drum with their lilting notes.
Polyphia have written a love letter, punctuating each and every would-be-word with “fun.” There are no “dull” moments here, as each song carries a whimsical hook to keep you coming back time and time again. Dave over at MetalSucks put it best when he said Muse is not “mindless exhibitionism,” with Polyphia instead offering a palette-pleasing panoply of riffs and leads that would make even the greatest guitarists of days past nod their heads in approval.
“Champagne” offers one of the catchiest lead riffs in instrumental tunes today, while “James Franco” is ripe with amusement, both in name and in sound. “Baditude,” featuring the boys from CHON, is such a considerate track to listen to, with clever use of palm mutes to create thick staccato transitions from one part of the song to the next. Calling Polyphia a “metal” band is certainly a misjudgment, but every moment on Muse is absolutely progressive, distributing a bounty of notes that could be considered a treasure trove.
The one complaint that can be brought against Polyphia’s work is the same that permeates throughout so many instrumental acts, even greats like Satriani or Vai that have been established for decades—though each track is distinguishable from another, the track names don’t necessarily evoke what they represent in word. “Sweet Tea” doesn’t make you feel like you’re sipping an ice cold glass of sugary tea on a hot summer’s day. “Champagne” doesn’t evoke the auditory equivalent of that bubbly sensation in your mouth and throat. “Aviator” doesn’t send you to the clouds, and “The Jungle” won’t take you on an imaginary safari. Of course, your mileage may vary, but these songs don’t immediately recall even fabricated scenarios.
“Memory,” on the other hand, stands as perhaps the most name-relevant part of the record. A prudent and polite offering clocking in at just over three-and-a-half minutes that does indeed awaken thoughts of, say, exploring your own mind, with transitions between furious leads and dulcet keys offsetting one another and creating a pleasant duality to prod the corners of your thoughts. A standout track, if there ever was one from a relatively new act.
An argument could arise that there are too many guest spots on the record, with six of the eleven tracks featuring other talent from the likes of Intervals‘ Aaron Marshall, CHON’s Mario Camarena & Erick Hansel, solo artist Nick Johnston, and a few others. This isn’t a condemnation against guest appearances on tracks, but it certainly detracts from the idea that Tim Henson and Scott LePage are particularly gifted—which they are, mind you, as the rest of the record delivers.
All that said, Polyphia’s Muse is simply a delight to listen to. A fantastic album to sit back and enjoy without any heavily thoughtful imagery or aggressive overtones.
Polyphia’s Muse gets…