The shamefaced Guilty Pleasures movement focused on the mid-70s for two glaring reasons: firstly, progenitor Sean Rowley and his pals grew up during the period, furtively listen to Carole Bayer Sager and the Gallagher & Lyle while outwardly professing love for, ooh, maybe the New York Dolls and Can; and secondly, times were unprecedentedly rich for pop music, as lessons learned from The Beatles coalesced into the afterburn from harmonic West Coast rock and the great singer-songwriters of the Canyon. Natural touchstones of the era like Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, 10cc and Electric Light Orchestra became synonymous with a smooth, open-hearted music that wasn’t exactly cool in its professional sheen and big, obvious hooks, but was certainly easy to love. Whether you were prepared to admit it was a matter for you and your peers.
The very concept of being embarrassed about music you adore has thankfully taken a kicking recently – and much of this is down to the French, who haven’t exactly been strangers to naff themselves. Daft Punk and Phoenix, in particular, have reclaimed those silky FM sounds and added a light dusting of credibility to make everyone feel happier about the whole thing. And now it’s the turn of the Spanish. Polock were formed under the Valencia sun, growing up clearly enamoured with some golden age of melodic rock and, more recently, the concise, sparkling pop of Phoenix themselves. Phoenix’s knack of leading the tune with expressive guitars over shimmering synth chords is all over Getting Down From The Trees, which brims with the hooks and joy of a natural summer soundtrack. In Papu Sebastián, Polock boast a singer with more obvious emotional range than Thomas Mars, but otherwise – and no bad thing either – they’re the perky equals of their Gallic cousins.
It starts with a rush, a blast of organ breaking out of ‘High On Life”s fluffy intro, Sebastián’s heavy accent immediately loveable. The music is an eiderdown of feelgood, the lyric more a pep talk for a loner. Whatever the mournful undercurrent, you can only come out of this refreshed and the mood is sustained, consolidated and built upon by single ‘Fireworks’, which appears machine-tooled to send shiver after shiver up the spine. This is where Phoenix are most influential, with echoes of the unstoppable ’1901′ in bursting bubbles of hook, and there are similar tricks on ‘Sometimes’ and its simple, swinging chorus, “Sometime I love you / And you make me feel so mad”. Polock find the pleasure receptors with ease.
But they’re no less assured on the minor key stuff, where the complex ‘Nice To Meet You’ still glows and largely instrumental ‘Defenceless’ spreads muso wings with rimshot guitars and bass solos. Yes, bass solos. At least they prove some sort of depth. It’s not really in Polock’s genetic code to mess around with difficult structure, though, as elsewhere they shift perceptibly from the Phoenix MOR model to try on the threads of an Iberian Strokes: ‘Tenderlies’ plays with the choppy guitars of the surly New Yorkers and closer ‘Night Shot’ is a neat, kinetic rocker that could’ve immeasurably brightened Angles if The Strokes had bumped their heads and decided to bewitch us with big tunes and barely an ounce of cool.
All of which makes Polock a smart counterpoint to much of the indie rock out there. They’re not interested in disinterring shoegaze corpses or being the hippest kids on the block. Instead, they’re delighted to air their love of the most brazen pop, all delivered with vim and joie de vivre and an utter lack of self-consciousness. Give them a warm welcome.