In a recent newsletter, Adam Wood proposed something called “Finest Hour.” The project was to create an hour-long playlist from a favorite artist. He placed special emphasis on the process of track selection and sequencing. I was intrigued by the idea. This exercise might have been more fun in the days of cassette tapes, when you truly would be limited by the constraints of the physical medium itself. The project would take a lot longer, but the challenge itself would be more rewarding.
Here we are, though, firmly entrenched in the digital age, and there is joy even in the ease of assembling such a precise collection. The band I chose for the project is one that has stuck with me since my youth. Truth be told, unlike many who tend to keep rotating music they listened to in high school or college (which makes me think of the titular character of Billy Madison), I find myself exploring new music a lot more often. But Polvo has had staying power. I think it’s the complexity of their angular and winding tunes, which typically have interesting and hard-to-describe pop hooks. Never anything but inventive, Polvo loomed large in the local music scene when I was growing up and made for a perfect first show at a rock club.
Polvo confounded some who couldn’t do the math. The author of the review of their discography in The_ Trouser Press Guide to ’90s Indie Rock_ wrote, “…it’s hard not to ruminate about what the band might be capable of if someone made them walk a straight line just once.” Those who got them really got them, though. I count myself among that “enlightened” group.
If you’ve never heard Polvo before, take a listen and see what you think. Keep in mind that they can be challenging, but stick with them. There are really no other bands that sound like this one. If you have heard them before, feel free to critique the tracks I chose to include.