Friday, December 05, 2008

Album Review: "Music from the Adventures of Pete and Pete" by Polaris

Perhaps if you don't love and cherish The Adventures of Pete and Pete as much as I and most kids my age weaned on Nickelodeon do, this "Polaris" music might not appeal to you. Let me sum it up for you: mellow mid-90's alt-pop-rock with a kinda-sorta warbly voiced singer. There are 12 songs on here and most of them sound the same. If you aren't into this kind of music then you can just CHECK OUT right now.

But hey, this music serves as the soundtrack to one of my favorite television shows ever, so maybe the fact that every lovely little tune on here reminds me so strongly of Pete and Pete is feeding a bias strong enough for me to not see the EXCESSIVE MUSICAL SHORTCOMINGS present on this disc. But I don't think so - not only does this music fit the mood of the show to an almost impossible tee, it's also (at its worst) a collection of perfectly agreeable jangle-pop melodies. And, to me, it's a soundtrack to a bygone era - that of the mid-90's, which to me feels like some kind of ethereal, idealized wonderland. Childhood music, you see. Hearing this music, I think of suburban streets and cats I used to own. Maybe this is because Pete and Pete covered all these themes?? Probably.

And oh, the melancholy on this record. I feel it in my bones. Oh sure, you've got your poppy, zippy numbers: well-known Pete theme song "Hey Sandy," the catchy-as-hell "Saturnine," and the wonderful "Summerbaby" which was memorably used as Little Pete's long-lost favorite song in the show. But oh jeez, then there's the dreamy "She is Staggering," often used in romantic scenes in the show, and "Ivy Boy," with its vocal-less piano chorus that always puts me in an oddly reflective mood for some reason. Even peppier numbers like "Waiting For October" and "Coronado II" have this reflective, sad undercurrent showing through. Those echo-ey "ooooh-oh" vocals in the background of "Coronado"? Maaaan.

CONFESSION TIME: I listened to this album, "Ivy Boy" especially, shortly after I had to put my cat down this summer. He was fifteen years old, and memories of his life inevitably forced me to think about my old house and my old neighborhood. Somehow this music fit these memories like a glove. Maybe this explains something??

I love the first eight songs on here. The last four, I'm not as familiar with and I hardly listen to them. But they still evoke those same feelings. Jeez, it's weird reviewing an album like this - I have no idea how anybody either not familiar with the show or from the same generation as myself would feel about this music! It's so personal. It's like it mine. Journal music or something. I don't know, I'm rambling right now.

If you are a fan of the show, definitely pick it up. It's like you're listening to the show, I kid you not! But it's all kind of samey so you might not appreciate it as an album, per se. Maybe it's best listened to in small doses. But those small doses, man. It's a fine listen once in a while. A fine trip down memory lane.

Which makes me think: I didn't even like Pete and Pete all that much as a kid. I just didn't get it. I didn't actually fall in love with the show until maybe like 3 years ago. So as a kid, I did not know any of this music. And yet, it still makes me think of my childhood. How does this make any sense?? Is it just that common mid-90's sound? Oh, the mysteries of life.


Liz said...

The best part about Polaris' "Hey Sandy" is that it took me about eighteen years to decipher the lyrics.

Matt Hoffman said...

I feel the same way about this album. The last four tracks do slow down a little, but "The Monster's Loose" is pretty great.

Sean Rose said...

yeah that is a good song, actually

Benjamin said...

I agree. I didn't really like Pete and Pete as a kid, but then my senior year of high school I went back and found it absolutely brilliant. Yet, it still holds a huge amount of nostalgia for me, because I watched it as a kid even though I would have prefered to watch Rugrats all day.

And agreed on the fact that this album sounds really samey. It doesn't stop me from listening to it through every now and again, even though I end up getting annoyed that every song sounds pretty much the same.