You won’t hear a more exuberant album this year than Polysics’ Now Is the Time! This decade, even. The Tokyo quartet takes Devo as a stylistic jump-off (the band’s red jumpsuits and opaque black sunglasses are a dead giveaway), downs six espressos, force-feeds the rhythm section steroids, turns the volume up as high as it will go, and leaps, fists flying, out of your system.
A Technicolor mix of punk guitars, electro beats, trilingual, yelped vocals (Japanese, English, and a made-up language), and Saturday morning cartoon synths, Now Is the Time! sounds like nothing else. Guitarist/vocalist Hayashi plays with a ferocity that pulls from metal and punk, but he remains, miraculously, distortion-free. The resulting tone is Polysics’ flagship sound: a jagged, crystalline six-string assault. When Hayashi and drummer Yano lock into a jacked-up new wave groove on the shrieking, tech-y (and irresistibly catchy) opener, “Tei! Tei! Tei!,” the band’s ADHD tendencies are downright overwhelming.
The album’s 45 minutes zip by in a blur of boy/girl chanting and lightning-fast surf riffs. “Baby Bias” tempers its disco cheese with a killer power-pop hook and quasi-futuristic synth burbles, and “Walky Talky” once again soundchecks Devo, with the bottomless crunch of Hayashi’s guitar keeping the song anchored in the here-and-now on the shout-along chorus. Now Is the Time! could live up to its name as the breakthrough album Polysics’ American fans have been waiting for, but the band’s spastic weirdness may very well prevent that eventuality. There’s never been a band quite like Polysics, and there certainly will never be another. For a classic cult-band in the making like these guys, that may be a good thing.