The Polysics' sound becomes obvious with one glance at the pictures in the liner notes of the band's latest, a compilation of previous singles and LP tracks. Four youths stand fascist-stiff in front of DayGlo backgrounds, staring into the unknown future, clothed in nuclear-blast protective goggles and matching industrial jumpsuits. The synthesizers practically blare before you even hit the "play" button.
Sure, there's lots of kids copying Devo and Kraftwerk these days, but none have done it as brain-blowingly well as this Japanese crew. Unlike domestic indie rockers who make devolution sound like a formulaic theory, the Polysics lob a pipe bomb into their museum exhibit. The energy is miles high, with analog synths stabbing two-chord guitar riffs, robotic vocals, and pounding rock beats underlaid with electro blips. Hints of the Ramones' bop to glitch techno to every futuristic pop maneuver in between get a chance to leap to center stage. Yeah, singer Hayashi's squeaky screeches get annoying, and the sheer spazzyness of it all is not for the headache-prone, but the Polysics know just when to switch from future-shock treatment to quirky pop and right back to blast again. In any event, it's all impressive comic-book stuff.