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Pole Position
(Polar Music)

Borrowing a name from a classic Atari videogame, this New Jersey duo of Daniel Da Silva and Rui Guerreiro have been creating music for about 3 years now. With a full-length soundtrack (for the rather obscure films of Thomas Torres-Cordova) and a couple singles under their belt, they're branching out into deeper waters with this 8 song EP that runs just about 25 minutes long. Combining synths galore alongside bass, live drumming, programming, and a touch of piano, they've not exactly synth-pop, yet not exactly rock either.

Instead of going the new-wave route like so many groups with similar setups (Ladytron), this duo steers more along a straight pop-rock line, with interesting rhythms (courtesy of a mixture of live and programmed drums) and mostly piano-led melodies. Imagine The Faint with a piano instead of a guitar and more breathy vocalists, and you're getting somewhere closer. Either that, or something akin to Rufus Wainwright with synths substituted for his gauzy orchestral bits.

Of course, they're not just straightforward pop-rock either, and they manage to mix things up a fair amount over the short amount of time that the EP runs. After starting out with the rather dramatic "Boulevard," they launch into the frenetic pianos and almost breakbeat live drumming of "The Nerve." Two of the best tracks on the disc follow in "Tragic Death Of Porn Starz" and "Move Enough." Despite the rather silly name, the former track lumbers along with a light trip-hop beat and some nice interplay between piano and synth (something akin to what you might expect from Air), while the latter again takes on a much faster rhythm and is highlighted by a great two-part vocal chorus.

While the release only runs about 25 minutes, the group sounds the best when changing up styles as they do on the previous tracks. During the second half of the disc, many of the tracks use the same sorts of synth sounds, drumming (albeit at different BPMs), and piano along with vocals. While the group creates nice sounds with this combination, it does get to be a touch on the repetitive side, especially when the tracks don't have much of a low-end to support them. Still, there's some interesting synth pop to be found on the disc, which is of course much better than the majority of radio pop these days.

Rating: 6.25