Polar Bear, The Lexington, gig review: Music that doesn't leave one cold


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The Mercury Prize mostly acts as the slightly hip wing of the music industry's hype machine. It can, though, give a legitimate leg-up to a band such as Polar Bear, whose new album In Each And Every One has earned their second nomination, and whose questing post-jazz is a long-shot for mainstream acclaim.

The committed and curious packing this celebratory gig in a King's Cross pub show Polar Bear aren’t necessarily operating in music’s chilly outer reaches.

Drummer/bandleader Seb Rochford has sidelined himself in favour of Leafcutter John’s laptop-created beats on the new album, hoping to simplify his drum-sound. His martially even solo on “They’re All Ks and Qs Julian” subtly shifts in timbre and pace, finally kicking Polar Bear up a gear, where saxophonist Pete Wareham, rearing and bucking, leads a passionate acoustic jazz blow-out.

Stormy digital weather thickens the ambience, mutates saxes till they sound like Theremins and helps find dub’s haunted, echoing space. A splicing of four-to-the-floor House aggression and improvised sax solos is their most simply effective combination of apparent extremes. The Mercury Prize could do worse than invite Polar Bear further in from the cold.