Polyphonic Size

  • Polyphonic Size
  • Live for Each Moment/Vivre pour Chaque Instant (Fr. New Rose) 1982 
  • Mother's Little Helper EP (Enigma) 1982 
  • Walking Everywhere (Fr. New Rose) 1984 
  • The Overnight Day (Fr. New Rose) 1987 

Polyphonic Size is Belgian; their first album was produced by Strangler Jean-Jacques Burnel, who also contributed bass and vocals. Unlike Burnel’s other work outside the Stranglers (his first solo LP, production for Japan’s Lizard), this effort has none of his usual aggression. Instead he delicately captures Polyphonic Size’s lovely synthesizer art-pop. Sung primarily in French by a man and a woman backed by simple (not rudimentary — carefully constructed and subtle) electronics, this resembles Orchestral Manoeuvres’ lighter work. Excepting some perky numbers that resemble Japanese synthesists like Plastics, a low-key approach — gentle, almost tender singing and languid tempos — makes Live for Each Moment as relaxing as a hot bath, but without the ennui, thanks to a resolute commitment to pop song structures. A very pretty record.

The Mother’s Little Helper 12-inch singles assemblage has five tracks, including a humorous electronic reinterpretation (not unlike the Flying Lizards) of the Rolling Stones classic after which it is named.

A new four-piece lineup, working with producer Nigel Gray (Police, Siouxsie and the Banshees) on Walking Everywhere and The Overnight Day, has kept Polyphonic Size moving into mild, commercialized pop fare — a less quirky Plastic Bertrand or perhaps a Flemish answer to Nena. The wispy male and female vocals (in French and lightly accented English) and the understated music keep the records unfailingly pleasant, but a shade too skimpy on character to make Polyphonic Size a bigger international commercial property.

[Ira Robbins]