With slight exceptions, the prior works of Mike Polizze have tended to center on volume, gnawing at the air until the oxygen is burnt and a char lays over the scene. His first entry to the amplified atmosphere came via Birds of Maya — blistering paint and eroding eardrums through releases on Holy Mountain and Richie. A left turn towards the garage with a touch of pop as Purling Hiss didn’t turn down the turmoil in the early years, letting feedback fight the tape hiss for prominence on initial releases before beginning to edge towards a classic rock sound that’s been more refined. In a lot of ways Polizze’s been following the same trajectory as Ethan Miller’s slide from Comets on Fire to the slipstream sheen of Howlin’ Rain. With a new run under his own name Mike’s stripping away the electric grit altogether, though, and letting the warm amber glow of late October firelight color his folk-pop with a particular nod to his Philadelphia surroundings.
Hunkering down with fellow Philadelphiles Kurt Vile and producer Jeff Zeigler, and letting the results out on Paradise of Bachelors, this is the sound of Philly transplants growing easy into their next phase. The pure joy of it comes through in every fiber. The stamp of Vile is particularly present on the album and he lends vocals to quite a few of the tracks here, with Polizze stepping up and delivering on his own version of Vile’s hammock-swung porch vibes. The record cools the swamp of summer into the sweater-hugged nights of fall from the moment the needle hits the platter. In fact those feeling an ache for a new Vile LP would be wise to see this as a stop-gap gift from the songwriter as it feels almost like an even collab between the two at times. Even hidden in the haze, Polizze had a handle on songwriting that made it stick, but here with the volume twisted down, he’s proving that he’s got hooks and grace to spare. The record is a departure for the songwriter, but it feels like a natural shift that could spawn the next phase rather than an outlier among the fuzz.
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