Sometimes, there comes along an album that one feels they should not like that much but just do no matter what they find to fault it with. “Mission Polar Lights” by The Satellite Year is such a record, an album consisting of 13 tracks that bring big hooks, vibrant melodies, and smooth harmonies but never breaking out from a sound that is a constant and almost formulaic for the punk pop arena. It raises an intriguing confusion from the fact it has nothing particularly new about it as it paddles in the well established waters of the genre but as a package emerges as an enjoyable and very satisfying release. The German band garnered very favourable reviews for their debut “This Is Voltaire” in 2008, and there is no reason not to expect the same for their new album too.
“Mission Polar Lights” opens with the great, albeit brief, instrumental ‘And We Will Dance To Your Heartbeat (We Are The Mission)’, its pulsating synths, bright guitars, and strong rhythms are an instant indication of what is ahead. In truth the 35 second tune is the intro to second track ‘Because This Ain’t Vegas’, as this song carries on and expands on the same hooks and flow. It is a strong full track opener showing the band at its best with a sound not too dissimilar to Fall Out Boy, and though it does not stray too far from the American’s flavourings, the six piece does add some neat sounds to fill it out.
‘Girls Go Movie’ follows with its big sound and emotive vocals, and though there is nothing new being brought to the feasting table it is still a very satisfying and sustaining slice of music. This comment can be attached to most of the tracks within “Mission Polar Lights” to be fair.
The album ripples with strong and at times enticing basslines as on ‘Citizens Districts Telescopes’, instinctive and stirring guitars like in the Jimmy Eat World sounding ‘Yeah, The Ocean’, and great harmonies and melodies vocally and musically within tracks like ‘Jelly, Jelly, How To Survive Such A Trip’ and the neat ‘A Campus- A Heart- A Star’; here the harmonies come right out of The Police songbook.
The keyboards sounds throughout are fresh and help lift each track; add all of the other aspects and The Satellite Year use this combination to create a collection of songs that offer little new to the genre but nonetheless still produces music that, no matter what anyone says, is an entertaining and satisfying way to spend an hour.
‘‘C’ Is For Competition (We May Collide)’ perfectly sums up the whole album. Starting with a ballad pace synth, it brings in electro sounds and opens out into something more fitting a boy band. Then, just as the finger reaches for the skip button a neat guitar hook line pops up and the vocals are accompanied by some delicious female vocals, still borderline but the ear now wants to hang around to see what will happen next. Once the vocals switch to the female singer as lead the song is another animal, still too close to sappy pop but it does work really well.
“Mission Polar Lights” is simply an album of previously trodden sounds but The Satellite Year deliver them with big choruses, flowing melodic hooks, and an almost infectious enthusiasm that cannot fail to draw in the listener. Any flaws are more than cancelled out by the positives and though it is not an album of the year contender it is a release that does what many will not, entertain, please, and raise spirits. “Mission Polar Lights” is released on Engineer Records May 30th.