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From the chiming, shimmery guitar riff that opens the album to the slo-burn build of the final track, it has become evident that Bluetip has evolved into one of Washington, D.C.'s best and brightest bands. Over the course of two albums for Dischord, Bluetip has successively ratcheted up its melodic sensibility without compromising any of its aggressive edge or musical complexity, and Polymer, the band's third, proves to be a certifiable rock & roll gem. Despite the loss of founding guitarist Dave Stern, Bluetip maintains all of its six-string might thanks to new member Brian Clancy and the ever-impressive guitarist/singer Jason Farrell. The two weave twisting, punky riffs with intricate leads and overlays injected throughout; all the while, Farrell's voice, which has comfortably settled somewhere between a sneer and a croon, protests and muses over the human condition. Dave Bryson retains an erratic but disciplined control in his drum work; the songs are peppered with deft fills that highlight every crescendo within the songs. Mainstay Jake Kump brings his formidable bass talents to the fore yet again, this time with an even bigger presence than on previous albums. Bluetip has always had style and swagger to spare, so it's the songs that really mark this record as a progression for the band. Amidst a rousing, anthemic chorus, "Polymer" questions our future and it's instability, while "New Shoe Premonition" slowly constructs layers of sound until it breaks into a downright pretty chorus. "Don't Punch Your Friend (For Being Slow)" seems like a standard punker until Farrell leaps into an uplifting, melodious refrain. All in all, it's tough to find a bum track; on Polymer, Bluetip pushes the boundaries for both the band itself and for all melodic hardcore into wondrous new terrain.