From the start of Brighten & Break, it was clear to see that Seattle’s Pollens has a very worldly influence. The various snippets from Eastern and African culture can be felt through the harmonies, tones, and the steadiness of the drums as the collection expands. Although the release starts off with an interesting sounding number, it treads the line of both distracting and flat-out annoying. The brash “uh-oh-ohs” that boom in the beginning of “Helping Hands” are not an easy part of the song to take one’s focus from, even when they drift into the background. The sextet’s eclectic indie rock fluctuates between fresh and irritating from song to song, and sometimes even during the same piece. Take “Powers,” for instance; the fourth cut starts off with grim and droning vocal tones but picks up and transforms into a crisp number full of bright harmonies and optimistic handclaps. And as quickly as Brighten & Break provided a pleasant surprise, disappointment shortly followed. Despite the beginning of “Splinters & Pointheads” having a lo-fi, retro pop vibe as the song progressed, it came off as a lackluster attempt at experimental pop.
Pollens’ inconsistency of Brighten & Break was fairly upsetting seeing how the group has a unique spark buried somewhere within them. As the album starts coming to a close, the vibrancy of the band really starts to pull through, admittedly a little too late in the game. A less experimental, more natural sounding track ends the disc, giving hope to Pollens’ future.