On Purling Hiss’ “Water on Mars”



Purling Hiss - photo by Tiffany Yoon
(photo by Tiffany Yoon)

I was delighted when I saw that Purling Hiss had been added to LPR’s July 1st show with Death and The Everymen. If you haven’t already, go read Mike V’s incredibly moving story of how the show came together. Once you’re done with that, I’ll talk a little bit about Purling Hiss.
Water On Mars, the Philly trio’s debut LP on Drag City, dropped earlier this year at about the same time that I started working at LPR, and it quickly became my go-to soundtrack for the commute from Brooklyn to Bleecker Street.
The album kicks off with “Lolita,” a walloping and fuzz-saturated affair that takes no prisoners, sonically speaking. In its raging squalls you can start to make out frontman Mike Polizze’s sharp guitar chops and pop sensibilities, which only become more pronounced as the record progresses. Tracks like “Mercury Retrograde and “Rat Race” conjure up Dinosaur Jr. vibes, while “She Calms Me Down” and “Face Down” borrow from the lighter and heavier sides of the Pixies, respectively.
“The Harrowing Wind” is probably my favorite track. Coming after the pummeling and cathartic riffs of “Face Down,” the song settles into a relaxed groove where Polizze’s voice and guitar can mingle in sweet, sweet harmony. Water on Mars’ title track, however, is probably the best representation of the album’s overall sound. As its insistent drums and psychedelic swirl gradually gain steam, the seven-minute song brings to mind Faust’s “Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl).” After a full five minutes, Polizze’s vocals finally emerge, like the sun beaming through the clouds after a refreshing afternoon downpour.
The record closes with “Mary Bumble Bee,” a jangly tale of heartbreak. With the song’s straightforward lyrics and matter-of-fact delivery, though, you sense resilience and resolve, especially in the final lines: “I had to leave you alone. / Send me running home. / So long, goodbye.”
Purling Hiss plays LPR Monday, July 1 with Death and The Everymen. Check out a couple tracks from Water on Mars below.
Purling Hiss – “Mercury Retrograde”:

Purling Hiss – “The Harrowing Wind”:

posted by John