So here we are…Polysics have become the Japanese OK Go. I think to some degree it was inevitable – the band have been spazzing out new wave music for more than a decade now, and it seems tough (to me at least) to maintain such a head-rattling pace for that long. It’s all been sort of leveling out for the band with each subsequent release following the high marks they set around the turn of the century, but Polysics seemed to be really forcing it on last year’s Absolute Polysics full length. A few standouts aside, the majority of that album felt less like a band pulling something unique out of themselves and more like an aged group knowing that everyone thinks of them as the Japanese Devo so…better sound like them.
A year and one band later stepping away from the group later, Polysics give us “How Are You?,” a pretty unmemorable song coupled with a funny video. The clip makes fun of the current 3-D television craze sweeping across Japan (aside: I have no idea how those things are being pushed in the rest of the world, but Japanese companies really want you to purchase a 3-D TV) and it’s a clever little creation. Polysics have always had a knack for making good videos matching the wildness of their music. With “How Are You?” though the group starts seeming like the type of band you look forward to the videos more than the songs. The crazed-machine keyboard notes distract rather than add to the overall song, and everything else sounds like a reheat of 2010’s “Young OH! OH!”…which already tasted like leftovers.
Part of the reason this new song…and their last two albums…leave me so let down is because this band has had some truly sublime moments of music. Back then, they just seemed like a gimmick band from Japan but underneath it they were mad scientists. Now they seem pretty content to be the Japanese Devo-clones everyone thought they were. Their videos can still impress and I’m sure they are still a must-see live act…but they’ve always been those. Now the actually music seems a bit off.