Atlanta, Georgia’s heaviest music export, NORMA JEAN, have released their expectation-defying seventh full length, Polar Similar, via Solid State Records. The band has always been a band without fear and on Polar Similar, they take this drive to new heights. Polar Similar finds Norma Jean shedding their comfort zones, challenging preconceptions, and forging an undeniably powerful new sound. By taking their trademark mastery of aggression, combining it with impressive experiments in mood and melody, and tying it all together with startlingly honest lyrics, Norma Jean have managed to make an album that is sure to please their loyal fans and make many new ones. Polar Similar are available now and to support the release, Norma Jean have also announced a run of Fall tour dates starting in November. See full list of dates below.
“[Polar Similar] grooves and lashes out wildly like a caged animal, but more than ever Norma Jean colors the chaos with brooding hues.” – NPR
“…could be their best and most ambitious work to date.” – Metal Injection
“…one giant, all-encompassing piece of pitch-black brilliance.” – TeamRock
Nearly twenty years since the band’s conception, Norma Jean has continued to throttle forward, proving that their legacy as musicians is not only deserved, but long-lasting. The consistency of Norma Jean’s tremor remains an immovable force, but on the band’s seventh full-length, Polar Similar, Norma Jean have taken risks sonically and lyrically, to create their most dynamic work yet.
First and foremost, Polar Similar is a reminder that Norma Jean is anything but rudimentary. “Sonically, we hoped to open minds to something different,” explains the band’s lead singer, Cory Brandan. “It seems like the world has found the cookie cutter, microwaved form of everything, and we pushed ourselves really hard to be something else.” Decisions like recording at Pachyderm Studio (the same studio where Nirvana recorded their boundary-pushing classic, In Utero) in Minnesota proves it. Each morning the band walked from the cabin to the backyard studio, turned on The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s isolation-themed thriller, and used the space’s legendary acoustics to record audio that would end up so powerfully raw, it would need no added effects.
Using the haunting chill of winter woods, the eerie acoustics from an indoor pool, and the unrelenting drive to capture natural, the band stayed put until their record—a vulnerable, haunting accomplishment—was complete. The finished product stacks itself atop an already impressive catalog of releases that yells just as powerfully, just as distinctly, and just as as profoundly as the ones preceding it. Polar Similar’s lyrical themes, however, set it apart.
Much of Polar Similar centers around abuse. Inspired by a tumultuous relationship Brandan experienced many years ago, this album is his most unguarded. “As a man, it wasn’t easy to face the reality of that abuse. Decades out of that relationship, I think it’s important to reach out to listeners who feel like I did then, who feel alone or different – like this has only happened to them – because the facts are one in three women and one in four men will find themselves in abusive relationships in their lives,” he explains. “It’s not just physical abuse either—physical abuse is the product of an already abusive relationship. The record deals with all this in emotional detail.”
From the track “Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else,” an anthem about clawing yourself out of the cave of abusive relationships, to the song, “A Thousand Years A Minute,” which looks inside self-harm, to “Reaction,” a song dealing with the struggle to reach victims, Polar Similar exposes—honestly and powerfully— the varied perspectives of relational abuse. Although each of Norma Jean’s albums are fastened together by unyielding talent and ingenuity, their seventh release does stand out in motive. “I hope fans can be reached through this,” notes Brandan. “It’s hard to know when you’re in an abusive situation; the most important thing is to know what the signs of abuse are and to take action.”
The making of Polar Similar in a secluded studio in the woods, however haunting, became a sanctuary for a twenty year legacy—one with the ability to build such mammoth sound as to reach the ears of those who need to hear it most. Inspired by their isolated setting, Norma Jean made a powerful record to remind listeners that they aren’t alone.
11/04 Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theater
11/05 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
11/06 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
11/08 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
11/09 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
11/10 Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
11/11 San Diego, CA @ Soma
11/12 Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse
11/13 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
11/14 Las Vegas, NV @ Vinyl
11/15 Mesa, AZ @ The Nile
11/16 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
11/17 Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th Street Collective
11/19 San Antonio, TX @ Korova
12/01 Orlando, FL @ The Social
12/02 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
12/03 Charlotte, NC @ The Underground
12/04 Baltimore, MD @ Sound Stage
12/06 Philadelphia, PA @ TLA
12/07 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
12/08 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
12/09 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr.Smalls
12/10 Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
12/11 Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot
12/13 Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s
12/14 Minneapolis, MN @ The Cabooze
12/15 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
12/16 St.Louis, MO @ Ready Room
12/18 Dallas, TX @ The Door