Down With The Kids – Polyhymns’ sound of parenthood and isolation in the digital age is with me in lockdown

I’ve tended to withdraw from social media to a great extent while I’ve been shielding during the lockdown. It was getting a bit too much.

It’s no overstatement to say that music has been a real lifeline during the last couple of months, and one track in particular in recent days has done the business.

Polyhymns are a new group from Sheffield, and despite me bad-mouthing social media, Twitter brought us together at the tail end of last year, when we were both agitating to save the Late Junction show on BBC Radio 3. Twitter can be great for those surprise connections you make.

As well as their sound, my head was inevitably turned by the branding of the band which particularly interested me, given my past life. They are Andrew Bolam, Gavin Harris and Sam Smith, and come from Sheffield. In their own words, they “write and produce electronic experimental music and dreamy acoustic pop songs.” As you will hear from their discography to date, that can mean a wide range of things.

 

“Down With The Kids” is their latest release, due out on June 1st – a song the band say is written about parenthood and isolation in the digital age, with obvious resonance at the moment with parents home-schooling during the pandemic. The release date could not be more relevant, with it also set to be the hotly contested “will it/won’t it” date for some cohorts of students to return to school, with increasing numbers appearing to dispute the Government’s plans.

I don’t have children, but it still had that link for me, redolent of what felt like lockdowns with my Dad and his radiogram in the sitting room back in the early 70s, playing ‘Bread’ albums on a permanent loop. Dad (who tended to work nights) died 8 years ago, so it’s a joyful reminder of his presence in the room.

Dad – just as I remember him when he had us in the sitting room on lockdown with the radiogram in the early 70s. The sun always seemed to be streaming in.

Two of the sounds I most associate with lockdown today are the phone ringing from my sister, home-schooling my niece, as I appear to take on the role of ‘phone-a-friend’ supply teacher most days. Then there are the squeals of delight from my neighbour’s primary school age brother and sister, playing next door in the shadow of the Beech and Ash trees that have always spoken to me from the end of their garden since I was I was their age, as they take a break from their home-schooling.

Those two trees at the back of my neighbour’s garden where the two children play – their sounds are a delight.

“Down With The Kids” has already caught the ear of BBC Music’s Introducing Mixtape, broadcast on the show on BBC 6Music with Tom Robinson – and more people are starting to pick up on it too – see this review on JoyzineUK which captures the essence well.

The trio previously worked together in folktronica group Little Glitches, who were championed by Lauren Laverne and Shaun Keaveny,  and received remixes from Morcheeba and Fila Brazilla.

This track is a perfect fit for the times we find ourselves in, and I feel blessed to have discovered Polyhymns through a chance meeting on social media. I really it finds wider airplay because it makes me feel good while I’m hiding away, but still listening.

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