The reunion album In Prism sounded like Polvo had something to prove, but it be the band's second post-reunion effort that finally quells the armchair quarterbacks that question if they are truly on the same level as their younger selves.
The difference with Siberia is that Polvo once again seem to be working from a looser script in much the same way they did when they were a full-time working/touring/recording unit. The new album strips away the taut arrangements and charted scales found on In Prism in an attempt to recreate the spontaneous discoveries that made their early records such stunners.
So the question goes: is it as stunning as Today's Active Lifestyles or Exploded Drawing? And the obvious answer is "No," but that's not to suggest that it isn't very awesome to have Polvo back, creating, and making recordings that do nothing but add to this band's lofty history.
Siberia is actually the perfect record for discovering Polvo because their wide, angular guitar heroics have been softened somewhat, but the manner in which they achieve it only opens new doors for the band's future. And that is widely exciting for a long-time fan like myself.
Polvo's notoriety is that it's fronted by two wildly innovative pickers in Ash Bowie and Dave Brylawski, with Bowie handling most of the vocal duties. While his questionable lyrics and limited vocals always being the band's chief complaints in the past, they are a big part to Siberia's success.
But again, this is a guitar lover's band first and foremost, and it is this instrument that becomes the record's obvious selling point.
The two do a fine job replicating the jagged and buzzy interplay of old during Siberia's opener, "Total Immersion." No wonder old-timers have been calling this one a "return to form." "Blues Is Loss" further examines this and may rank as one of the band's best performances on any album.
Where the band begins exploring uncharted territories is on cuts like "Light, Raking" which features a bright synth during the chorus, ranking the song as the closest thing Polvo has ever done that sounds like a single. It's a great fit, btw.
"Old Maps" gets a nod with its acoustic mood-again, new explorations for a band that made its name from being plugged in to something.
If In Prism was a confirmation that they came back to add a needed exclamation point to their catalog, Siberia becomes the record that makes this post-hiatus ride a link to their past. It's also the record that makes any talk of another hiatus something of a concern, because they've got this band tuned up and sounding as good as it's ever.
Any talk of losing that now would be just as difficult as it was the first time.