Polmo Polpo – Like Hearts Swelling

Polmo Polpo
Like Hearts Swelling

As far as instrumental, one-man projects go, the results seem to fall into either the increasingly electronic and therefore more ambient than interesting, or toward the flowing experimentalism of projects like the Album Leaf. Sandro Perri, the man behind Polmo Polpo and his series of self-released 12-inch records that led to this, his debut full-length, seems to combine the two styles, adding a host of organic instrumentation with electronic sounds to create long, textured compositions that still feel, surprisingly, firmly rooted in pop music.
That’s what makes Like Hearts Swelling such a strong album: the pop foundation. While there are still long, soft moments and textured electronic ambience, for the most part this is a soothing yet playful pop album, filled with slide guitar, strings, accordion, and more. After its slow start – filled with a throbbing beat underlying sweet slide guitar – “Requiem for a Fox” takes on a light, teasing beat and acoustic guitar that feels surprisingly like a romp. “Sky Histoire” is the most playful song here, with a light, tambourine-filled rhythm and a nice mixture of guitar and strings. It’s a fun song that is perfectly situated on the album.
That’s not to say all songs here are as lively. The opening “Romeo Heart” is a slowly building tune of distorted effects and swirling synths that doesn’t go much of anywhere. And the five-minute “Farewell” is lulling more than anything. The closing title track, while by no means boring, is less poppy and instead more experimental, bringing in a multitude of instrumental sounds – including that accordion – for a unique and rather complicated flow.
I don’t want to mislead folks by the use of the word pop in this review: this is not a pop album, per se. Rather, as one might expect from the Constellation label, this is a deep and textured instrumental work. But what separates Polmo Polpo from other such bands is the use of organic instrumentation and playful, poppy structure that lies at the base of several songs here. And while this is at all times a lulling, comforting album best suited for early mornings or late evenings, it’s far more alive than many comparable works, and thus listeners will enjoy staying awake throughout and listening for Perri’s unique instrumental flourishes.