Polar Bear - Peepers (4 stars)

Polar Bear - Peepers

(The Leaf Label)

Polar Bear’s music has already been dubbed ‘post-jazz’ in some quarters, and it is easy to hear why a conventional jazz sensibility might struggle to allow them within the fold. Regard them as a freely improvising rock band, with strong jazz pedigree and a wide-open horizon when it comes to musical direction and it all makes a lot more sense. And if you are looking for jazz credentials amid the experimental ferment, they have plenty of it.

Saxophonist Pete Wareham and Mark Lockheart, bassist Tom Herbert and the ubiquitous Seb Rochford on drums all bring plenty of jazz ‘previous’ to the band’s punchy, off-the-wall attack, augmented by the guitar and electronics of Leafcutter John. As leader, Rochford supplies most of the compositions (a couple are credited to the whole group) and an unfailing propulsive energy to the music, which ranges from the hauntingly beautiful on ‘The Love Didn’t Go Anywhere’ to the free-jazz skronking of ‘Bump’ and ‘Scream’.

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