I get hayfever. Real bad, sometimes. But this particular strain of Pollen is infectious and debilitating in the best possible way - it will make you 1) sing (uncontrollably and loudly) and 2) stand there in shock unable to do a thing except sniff, your eyes watering, but for an entirely different reason to that large and inconsiderate yellow field a few streets away. Pollen can consider itself crossed off the list of things I want to eliminate from all areas of the universe and slapped right at the top of the one called 'Stuff I Love About Life'.
The misty, dimmed openings of each of these four exquisite songs pan up and out, expanding to create resounding anthems of massive scope. They don't just yearn and ache - they get RIGHT THERE, right where they're yearning and aching for, the throbbing waves of musical splendour surging and frothing along the sand until they crash into the cliffs, sending white sprays of melodious ecstasy sky-high.
At a young age, Nick Toone's voice had the words 'unique', 'trembling' and 'quiveringly beautiful' liberally poured on it in golden bucketloads from the angels above until the boy was thoroughly drenched in shimmering, floating, otherworldly heaven.
All I have been able to picture in my mind as I listen to this demo is the sea. 'Undercurrents', then, has the perfect title to convey the way I feel about Pollen - their music is something of pulsing, effortless and natural beauty, yet with a deeper hue of darkness and blue-black density beneath it; some blinking, ominous presence that ain't quite asleep, watching and waiting for that moment to burst through the surface in a hiss of guitar and thumping, sub-aquatic drums. It's not quite concealed, not quite safe, and it's all the more exhilarating for it. 'Something's Got To Give' collapses into discord; cymbals ricochet around in a cavern of deep, grumbling atmosphere before resolving into a serene vocal harmony, a reflective postlude to a turbulent and beautiful storm. And if that's great, then 'One Man And His Dog' is a knockout of epic proportions.
Pollen are a force to be reckoned with, and I really don't see this CD finding its way out of my player for the next few weeks or so.