Weeeeeeeeee!, by Polysics— that’s ten “e”s — is almost the most perfectly-titled album in my collection. It’s not *quite*, of course — there should be an “h” after that “W” — but Polysics are Japanese, and their command of English is ahead of my command of their language (which consists of “Domo arigato, Mister Roboto”). The title Weeeeeeeeee! sounds like it should be the most enthusiastic record in the whole world. And it is.
Its ingredients are straightforward enough: electric guitar, electric bass, drums, keyboards like early video games, shouty male and sweet (or sometimes shouty) female singers. Speed, volume, riffs. Unrelenting energy. That, and a subtle intelligence disguising itself as a 15-second attention span. Sparkling Water opens the record, and in under three hyper-caffeinated minutes has presented us with a heavy 6/8 riff; a dissolution into abstract toy electronics; a heavy but surf-rock-like 4/4 riff; a different, heavier 4/4 riff; funky, playful uses of momentary silence; singing, squealing, gibbering, declamation, and dialogue with a young robot. Lucky Star follows it up in a much more straightforward “pop” mode, with sweetly catchy sing-song vocals and a conventional backbeat; but it’s still quite fast, full of bubbly electronics, and has a semi-dissonant pre-chorus. It also has a short outro that introduces a (speeded-up) classic-rock styled riff a different band might have hung an entire song on.
And basically, if you like those two songs, you should like the whole album. Sure, there’s enough to tell the songs apart: Steam Pack is sparer, with an abruptness like Fugazi collaborating with the early Beastie Boys, but like the latter is clearly vocalized by cartoon characters. Quiet Smith buzzes in places like a swarm of synthetic tuned mosquitos that, in other places, decide to simply tear your house down so you can’t swat them against walls anymore. Lightning Express has a mosh pit’s concept of anthemic arena-rock uplift (in which your spirit’s rise is matched by your body being bruited into the air by all the fellow enthusiasts slamming into your thighs). Everybody Say No is as commercial as Lucky Star, except all the vocals are robotic, and have the meta insight to urge everyone in the audience to refuse to do what the Polysics ask.
But basically, Weeeeeeeeee! is what synth-pop and hardcore punk and the Who sound like when they agree to hold hands, love one another, and sprint until they fall down, which, for 41 minutes they don’t, because they replaced their weakest body parts and became very happy cyborgs. This probably should have happened in the early 1980s, but my understanding is that the necessary participants were all too busy resenting each other and pushing each other into lockers. Now they’ve grown up. For very specific and narrow definitions of “grown up”, but, y’know: enough to practice, record, and master an album together. Which is adulthood at its best anyway.
– Brian Block