Named for a seedy Sydney strip bar, Iguana is Polish Club’s meticulously engineered, contagiously corrupting new plate of party-rock frankfurters. Careening from floor to barstool to halfway up the wall, it incorporates electronic elements which never detract from the way we know (and love) Polish Club to sound.
“I think we realised [that] no matter what we add to it, as long as it’s me singing and my guitar, and John on the drums, it’s still going to pretty much sound like us,” explains David Novak. “It was a case of finding the happy medium where [electronics] are not necessarily the star of the show, but [they’re] in a context that is somewhat maybe surprising, or unexpected for people that know or listened to the first album. I think we wanted to do more in terms of using more instrumentation and going away from that retro vintage aesthetic.”
It’s all laid out within first single We Don’t Care, whose cowbell counter-rhythm immediately sets you up for the kind of groove these fellows are peddling. Auxiliary percussion also appears on the title track, in the form of agogo bells. “John had to fight to get those agogo bells in there, because I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is the right vibe – I don’t know if it’s a fun song,’” laughs Novak. “But now that he’s got them down, I can’t hear it without them. I trust his judgement more often than I don’t.”
John-Henry’s drumming became a chief focus during the process of recording; Novak describes the approach as a “decidedly less grip-it-and-rip-it, hard-and-loud drums”, and much more of a planned operation. Often, songs actually began with a drum idea, such as for the brilliant Let’s Pretend. “It’s a straight-up R’n’B ‘90s beat, and the whole song came about just because I love ‘90s R’n’B, and I never thought we could pull it off in a convincing and genuine way,” says Novak. “It all came from, ‘Hey, can we do this thing that is so not our genre, and still make it sound like us?’”
I Don’t Need This Anymore highlights the duo’s steps into themes of hope and triumph, instrumentally speaking. “In our earlier songs, a lot of it is painfully simple in terms of chord progressions,” says Novak. “But [with this album] we wanted to do stuff that wasn’t necessarily rough, or melancholic – not out-and- out either depressing or aggressive. It allowed us to use those classically uplifting and kind of climactic chord progressions.”
Not that trusting in themselves was a cakewalk. “I think sometimes we can get bogged down on paper: ‘What is this song, where does it sit, is it derivative, are we subconsciously ripping something off?’ It took us a while. It took is a year and a half for the whole process, but once we’re invested in an idea, we are naturally going to take it away and put it in a place where it’s comfortable and fun to play – which is usually making the most of our unique set of skills, I guess.”
One tendency of John’s which Novak found himself indulging is the former’s eagerness to utilise his own field recordings, like the insect chirrups at the end of Sun, the fiendishly warped metro message to “please stand clear” in Moonlighting, and the cleverly-placed crosswalk bleeps which signal the beginning of the title track. “John has this really, sometimes annoying habit of recording stuff: he’ll record backstage sounds, he’ll slyly record his friends just having a chat at the pub,” explains Novak.
“It doesn’t even come into the song until the last day where John’s like, ‘I’ve got a hundred audio files, can you choose one and put it in there?’ and I’m like, ‘Really?’ You’ve got to be tasteful and restrained, but it does help build a cohesive vibe and a connective tissue. And I think that was needed in this album because although the songs are informed by a cohesive mental point of view and journey from my lyrical perspective, the genres and styles of the songs are a lot more varied than you would get from the first album. It’s nice to have those little ambient, textural things that tie it together.”
Iguana is out June 7 via Island/Universal.
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