Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We hear the messy perimeters of what Mike Polizee does as Purling Hiss. We feel that he might be a guy that leaves his dirty socks and his underwear littered all over his floor. We feel like he might be a guy who has as dirty of a floor - if not dirtier - than that of his dirty socks and dirty underwear. We think that he might be a guy who lets the dishes pile up in the sink, the cereal bowls getting covered by more cereal bowls, finally letting off a signal that they need to be addressed, when the leftover milk in the bottom curves curdles and starts to stink up the whole kitchen. We believe that he probably could care less, that he might care about few things, but the things he does care about, we might be able to figure them out. For even those with their messy edges and no recognition of what it means to appreciate order or stability, have to have their basic human needs met and the man we hear in Purling Hiss songs is a man who maintains a self-neglect up until a point and that point seems to be in the form of companionship, or something thereof. We always get to that, don't we? We always get caught up on that little thing. It's so much more than the being alone or not being alone discussion, but one of real necessity, as if everything really does fall to pieces if it's just a lone wolf or a solitary ship roaming out there in the great, wide open.
Even without naming a song "Almost Washed My Hair," Polizee creates an unwashed sound that feels like the art of a dude with nicotine-stained fingers, multiple days' worth of salt and oil and stink on him and the kind of shredding guitar licks that can only come from calloused hands. Those songs put us into the head of someone treating those daylight hours indignantly, if only because they seem spiteful and ugly. He might just sleep them off anyway, trying to get away from them when he can. It sounds as if he builds into his songs chases and hunts, those girls that got away and continue to get away, singing on "Don't Even Try It," "Once I saw you at the edge of town/I didn't think it was true/Now you've got me lookin' all around/Won't you give-a me a clue/Every time the morning comes around/I gotta go to bed/Now my brain is all in a cloud and I stay awake instead/I really want to/Why can't I find you anywhere/I'm gonna tell you/I'm gonna tell you little girl/They told me not to tell you/Aw, things aren't what they seem." It almost seems like the sequence from "The Catcher In The Rye," that gives the book its title, where Holden Caulfield is waiting to catch children falling over a cliff. It's partly about preserving innocence and also about repairing the parts of a life that needs that comfort back, that needs something to fall into those arms and last for a while. Maybe then something could be done about the dirty edges and the dishes.
*Essay originally published March, 2011