When Nagaland’s Mar Jamir established Polar Lights in 2013, all he had in mind was to do what he loved doing the most – writing and performing music. Ten years, one EP and multiple singles later, the band has successfully marked its presence in the scene without looking back. This year in October it came out with its debut album To Feel Human, accounting for a rather personal story of the frontman – one that would likely not find a face in any other form. Jamir is the most vulnerable that he could be, having finally found his sound that amalgamates elements from his previous releases – the gritty rock-driven textures and pop-scapes of Talking to the Trees, “A Murder Machine”, “A Beautiful Escape” to name a few. This new mixtape (that took four years to put down according to Jamir) has curated influences across the arenas of pop, post-rock to ambient music, styled with dramatic shimmering soundscapes and confessional lyrics that explore some really dark places within Jamir’s mind like in “Castles” and “Electric”.
The record basks in the ebullience created through the juxtaposition of mellow and heavy elements in “Tongue Tied”, “Fallout” and “Train-Wreck” (although it is a pretty common occurrence throughout the entire tracklist); the recurrence of black and white moods creates a space for both death and life to come alive in its narrative. Sonically, the blending of these polar opposites leaves lots of room for experimentation that the band has used to derive a more self-assured sound. The album’s main focus lies in the expression of thought via evoking contemplative ambient soundscapes. Each track tells its tale lyrically and sonically making them stand out as their own juggernauts shouldering the essence of the record.
In “Trojan”, Jamir is closer to death than he will ever be again. “I left a note in my bedroom/ It’s by the door on the shelf/ I’m pretty sure I’ll be dead soon/ I think I might need some help” – he sings. He pours his heart out as brooding, melancholic instrumentals accentuate his vocals. “O.D.E.” and “Fallout” are two peas in a pod with the former serving as the prelude for the latter. Cascading spritely instrumentals commence “O.D.E.” and it concludes with a fluid outro doused in reverb-drenched guitars.
Jamir tries to make peace with his pain in “Perfect View” as he prepares himself to finally let go of it all – against the backdrop of an illuminated, hopeful soundscape. No matter how hard he hits rock bottom, he’ll “find his way back to the shore.”
The record resonates deeply with anyone who has gone through similar predicaments in life, sometimes even relatable at certain junctures. As Jamir comes to terms with his reality, he also leaves a precious token for all those who would accompany him on this journey – his friends, bandmates, or listeners as they try to find a piece of themselves in the record. It is truly an altruistic deed on his part.