Masochist
/ˈmasəkɪst/

noun

    1. a person who derives sexual gratification from their own pain or humiliation.
    2. a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.

Premiered on triple J Good Nights, the world got a taste of new music from Sydney heroes Polaris last night. “Masochist” is the first piece of music released from the band since the highly acclaimed The Mortal Coil landed, which firmly put the five piece on the map.

Beginning serenely and cleanly (yet defeatedly) before exploding into a stronger sound, the song serves visually and sonically as a story; one that will resonate with many. Jamie Hails’ gentle vocals set to beautiful guitar are an unexpected place to begin, but there’s no doubt that “Masochist” is a Polaris song at its heart.

The band returned to the same house in Mollymook where The Mortal Coil was created to bring “Masochist” to life. And the good news is that it is revealed that the single is part of an album to come. Polaris’ songwriter and drummer Daniel Furnari shared “As it happens, “Masochist” was the first song that we began writing in the album process. I remember I had the chorus, along with most of the lyrics and chords for the second verse, floating around in my head on one of the first tours we did for the last record, and once we had our first real break off the road it didn’t take too long for the rest of the guys to help flesh it out into a complete song.”

Talking about the new single’s sound, Daniel shared that the “very clear vision” the band had sought for “Masochist” to be was “something that straddled the line between our more metalcore sound and the emo and pop-punk tracks we grew up on, with some new textures in the verses, a big singalong chorus and just enough riffs woven in.” The choice to have “Masochist” as first single serves as a message to Polaris fans: Expect the unexpected in the new chapter of Polaris.

After “Masochist”‘s sweetly introspective introduction, the blast of the anthemic chorus with “Am I addicted to the misery, is this how I’ll always be?” shakes the listener awake to the punishing patterns and cycles they seem to be bringing upon themselves, in true masochist form. Frustration grows, with Jamie’s screams and circular and intricate guitar work perfectly matching the tense introspection.  Question marks litter the lyrics, and the blend of desperation and frustration is palpable.

“Your worst impressions were right about me”

“Masochist” hits an emotive peak at its bridge, where heart-wrenching guitar melodies and admissions like “This life is only what I choose to make of it” spark tears from some place within which resonates with what’s being heard and felt. A moment of focus toward percussion serves like an ‘it’s now or never’ urge to make a change. Polaris’ lyrics are as poetic as ever, and this beauty of a song seems to be taking everything great about the band and applying it more focusedly. I adore the stomping and bouncing sections of the song and how deliciously dark it also feels as it rolls along… through to the final collapse. “Masochist” is officially a winner for Polaris, who haven’t seemed to set a foot wrong… ever?

On the themes of the song, Daniel touches on the concept of habitually sinking into depressive thought patterns, “because some sick, destructive part of me almost likes it, or feels more comfortable living in that place”, wondering if his penchant for that ‘place’ means he’ll drive away the people he cares about. He elaborates on this, affirming that people are not to blame for their mental health, but adds that “sometimes turning the mirror on yourself like that is the only way to start becoming an active participant in your own wellbeing.”

As well as the song itself being incredible, it’s also visually spectacular and had Polaris work with Ed Reiss to bring the song to life in its music video. In the role of masochist (of sorts) is Zach Britt  (Young Lions, Dream On Dreamer), acting as a painter, which he also happens to be in reality. Frustrated with his art, he derives far more pleasure from its destruction, literally turning artworks into blood-smeared, splattered, and fiery messes instead.

“Masochist” is long awaited and gratefully received. It’s a pleasure to see this band continue to evolve beyond the mighty presence of their successful debut album. I can’t wait to see how this new chapter of the Polaris story unfolds.

 

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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