My Old Man, the debut from three piece I Am the Polish Army, experienced considerable birthing pains before finally seeing widespread release. Vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Emma DeCorsey burned through a series of disappointing collaborators, loss of musical equipment, and personal injury during the process of writing and recording this release, but none of these setbacks short circuited her desire to see the day when her songs would have a chance to be heard. There are some obvious and intentional influences working through the album’s eight songs, but there’s something equally individual and independent about the work that’s went into making this low profile gem. It will, undoubtedly, not have a low profile for long. DeCoursey possesses rare talents distinguishing her from skillful peers and contemporaries working within the same style and those elements will undoubtedly carry her and I Am the Polish Army higher than she ever imagined possible.
“You Don’t Know” burns with subtle attitude. There’s never any point when DeCorsey erupts with some soul-shaking yowl, but she conveys the lyric with such fierce, muted intensity there’s no doubt she means business. Her wiry guitar work never suffers from too many effects obscuring the power of her playing and what fx she does make use of only accentuates her strengths and invariably fits the song. The rolling, relentless percussion filling the track “Dead Bowie” brings a strong claustrophobic feel to this meditation on how fans of dead legends are forced to suffer the works of lesser when those legends pass away. Emma DeCorsey certainly has no time for imitation and, though clear antecedents can be drawn between I Am the Polish Army and other post-rock guitar driven acts, she filters those influences through the distinct prism of her own personality. “Throat” boils and churns with undeniable menace and sounds like a song teetering on the edge of a full on explosion that never happens. It gives it spectacular tension and even the track’s quieter moments seem to underline the dread and anger bubbling just beneath its surface.
The rumbling “Dead Cat” takes listeners through some dangerous territory and another hard-luck landscape with total confidence. DeCorsey’s sound never steers the audience wrong – it’s full of attitude and musicality from the beginning of the album and every track offers up an interesting variation on her musical approach. “Setup” has an enormous guitar and rhythm section groove that her vocal bites into with a tremendous amount of relish; another strong point of this release is how DeCorsey and the band maintain a locked down focus on every song. There is no self indulgence, no side shows, and their instruments are set to stun on every song. The title track has an expansive stride in its introduction before the band settles into a bass/drums/voice opening verse. The song’s pattern continues along this line throughout the track and the emotive slur of DeCorsey’s vocals gives way to some bracing emotional highs throughout the lyrics. My Old Man ends on quite an emphatic note and underscores how packed with inventiveness and spirit this album is. It was well worth the wait for everyone concerned.