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Music Review: Polaroid Fame – We Live Your Life

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As soon as anyone releases an album that has its roots firmly set in the 80s some people have a tendency to dismiss it without a moments thought.

Whilst agreeing that it wasn't necessarily a decade that sits high on my list of memorable music memories, you simply cannot make such sweeping dismissals without at least giving any new arrival a fair chance.

Fortunately, of course, we all have different tastes. This is why when you walk into a music shop we aren’t all queuing up at one letter of the alphabet. So it follows that for some, the 80s remain a high-temple of their musical heritage.

Polaroid Fame are a band from Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Their choice is to produce music which draws a large part of its inspiration from, what I would guess to be, the 'New Wave' synth styling of that era.

Having identified this rather obvious observation, and resisted the temptation to go on about time-warps, it becomes clear that the question that should then be asked is; do they add anything new and fresh to it?

First play through of their debut full-length album We Live Your Life, and I am struggling to see beyond the 80s synth. Second run out and I begin to hear a little more, such as the searing guitar duel on “Bowies New Jacket”, which took me totally by surprise, and another break on the title track, a hit that never was.

Certainly, there are some well written tracks, some infectiously compulsive mind-worm music, topped off with impressive production, sound, musicianship, vocals, and respect for that from which they draw a large part of their inspiration.

What I haven’t got is the benefit of seeing the band 'live'. Looking at the reports of the following that they have been building up down there they are clearly a hot property. Having said that, a studio album would fall horribly flat if it didn’t have the compulsive infectiousness that is, no doubt, an essential ingredient of their live set and this style of music.

Fortunately, there is no risk of this with an album crammed full of countless well constructed hooks. In fact there are more hooks than a Byron Bay fishing contest and it’s the quality of them that really starts to hit home several plays in.

Vocalist Frankie Kimpton adds extra guitar to Damian Watts’ impressive lead. In some ways the latter sounds a little frustrated and I’m sure lets rip in a live setting. Listen, and it’s definitely there in flashes, such as on "We Live Your Life", "Face Off", and "Caught On Film", but you just know that this guy wants to stamp on the pedals and fly. You also know that he has the skill to do it.

Meanwhile,  Frankie’s vocals are silky smooth, perfectly suited to the undeniable retro feel, and are never more so than on "Times On File".

Bass player Mitchell Hill, and drummer Guy Anderton shine further light adding splashes of additional creativity within the formula. Meanwhile, the all important synth is added by vocalist Zoe Kimpton.

“When I’m With You” is horribly contagious proving almost impossible to dislodge, reappearing at the most inopportune moments. The album is so well synced together that it all but breezes through at near break neck speed. Before you know it “Miss You” brings it to an end with one of the highlights.

Polaroid Fame has remained loyal to their inspiration but have still injected enough of their own obvious identity to make this album sound strangely fresh.

It’s a fact that this might not be for people like me. After all, I spent the 80s with the radio switched off and listening to the previous decades glorious output. However, credit where it’s due and I’ve heard better known bands from this genre produce less quality than can be found on this album.

More information can be found on the bands MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins