Pollen Rx // Buyer’s
Recommended Track: Supply Chain
Opening with the crack and hiss of a popped soda can and the high-octane yelps of Maude Morgan invoking corporate brand names like demons, the Buyer’s EP from Austin Texas three-piece Pollen RX (formerly just Pollen) is clear about its anti-consumerist MO from the start. Yet don’t let the sneering ghosts of dogmatic bands past put you off. Pollen RX make smartly political post-punk party jams are as lyrically dense as a college sociology textbook but danceable enough to make the Au Pairs proud.
Every song here is one part post-punk dance song and one part astute dissection of late stage capitalism delivered in the relatable patois of a peer, and Pollen RX are the unique band that might prompt a dance party and then a discussion, in that order. All the elements that make Buyer’s so great are present in opening track “Supply Chain.” That bopping beat and impossibly catchy sing-along vocals make it easy to forget the song’s heavy raison d’être: following the supply chain all the way down from the shiny iPhone you’re most likely streaming the EP on to the claustrophobic lives third world workers “digging dirt/so you can stay online.“
Pollen RX are deft about communicating their politics, never letting their message overwhelm the playful likability of the music nor shying away from the devastating truths they’re so gleefully unpacking. It works because the songs are observational rather than confrontational, boiling down heavy and difficult concepts into personal, almost casual lyrical couplets that are as singable as they are intellectual. Try “Brand Loyalty”, a pop-punk song indicting the alignment of personal values with public relations: “Step into this van and film a short documentary about your relationship…with our product line!” Or “J-5″, a seemingly slight song told from the point of view of Hirsch as he sails through the legal system for no reason other than the simple fact that he is white: “I never felt my power like that/ I was out of there in an hour like that/ the day I went to jail.“
Pollen RX is refreshingly forthright about their complicity in the systems of power that sustain their first world lifestyles while dooming others to poverty and exploitation. “Friction moving back and forth, I am just the buyer,” wails Morgan on “Packaging”, echoing the justifications/lies we all tell ourselves so we can sleep at night. But Pollen RX are too intelligent to expect absolution as the follow-up lyric makes clear: “Consumption isn’t clean.” This band is not only post-punk, then, but post post-modern, aware enough of the enduring unfairness of the modern world to feel anguish rather than irony.