Party Punk Promenade: Pollen’s EP is a Lively and Impressive Debut

Pollen EP

by Nate Abernethy

There are a lot of things I love about the current state of the punk scene. I love the ballsy and brave relentlessness of Feral Future, I love the at times angst-ridden tracks of XETAS, I love that the only French I speak is from listening to Crooked Bangs over and over and over. There’s a ton of great bands out there doing different things experimenting with garage and psychedelic sounds, and diving head first into bold directions, new and old. But sometimes I just want to dance damn it, and not in a head thrashing let me stomp the nearest person in the mosh pit kind of way. No, I mean I want to groove around like a goof and have a smile on my face while doing it. Pollen hasn’t lost sight of the need to provide for the fun-lovers, and brings a welcome frolicsome energy without falling into banality.

Pollen’s self-titled debut EP hits its highest mark right out of the gate with the first track “Not A Test” that we took notice of way back in January. It’s a sharply punctuated, catchy tune with a dash of social commentary and most importantly a sense of fucking fun. In what could have easily been an anger-driven vindictive track against a shoddy education system, instead you’ll find yourself turned into a dancing fool. Guitarist Ben Hirsch takes center stage with a voice that is indescribably well suited for the song, and a steadily strutting guitar jangle steering the momentum forward. There’s no question “Not A Test” is Pollen’s strongest and most rounded track as all of the band’s elements just fall perfectly into place, but it leaves room for the rest of the EP to challenge your initial expectations.


“Apartment” takes a surprising personal detour that also serves to slowly build the momentum of bassist Maud Morgan’s expressive vocals that can alternate between exquisitely airy and downright sassy. Reduced to primarily soothing background vocals in “Not A Test”, from this point onward Morgan’s cadence builds and builds throughout the EP until it consumes your attention. “Apartment” once again exhibits Pollen’s incredible ability to multitask; what at the outset sounds heartbroken and enraged with a deep bass and Hirsch’s gravely introductory tone flips completely with an upbeat chorus and playful percussion from drummer Andy Palmer. As someone who finds myself still discovering missing books and movies lost to ex-girlfriends of the past, I couldn’t help but smirk at the simultaneous love-struck hope and bitter warning of “Apartment”.

Perhaps my personal favorite, “AR AK” is a flawless execution that seduces you with a dreamy intro courtesy of Morgan and an almost timid strum; then hits you in the chest with a blaring concoction of a chorus that comes out of nowhere and ends before you’re even sure you heard it. Despite this contrast, “AR AK” never feels jumbled or messy, and instead proves why we won’t shut up about Pollen. As the song fades out and leads into the final track it’s hard to find a single aspect of Pollen’s debut to critique.


“Short Selling” sends the EP out on a consistently high energy that crackles with a shrieking harmony and the most use of Palmer’s urging drum force yet.  What starts with swaying and swaggering guitar peppered with cymbals develops into a stop and go of stamina that eventually kicks into a higher gear as the final notes fade. The closer doesn’t quite live up to the previous tracks, but you really have to nit pick to find a single aspect wrong with this EP. A fast-paced debut that will have long-lived notoriety, expect more big things to come from Pollen.