Pop. 1280
The Horror


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
February 10th, 2012 | 61 replies | 9,828 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: RIYL: dictatorial apocalypses, canine imagery, varying intensities of nutshots

The Horror is a testosterone-fueled pounding. There’s no pussyfooting around it; the first lyric is “two dogs fucking.” Everything about this record--the drums, the guitars, the sneering vocals--spits unbridled masculinity. On “Nature Boy,” orders to dance are barked with a drill sergeant’s capacity to emasculate: ”hips to the right and hips to the left.” That a move this potentially self-parodying is genuinely unsettling is testament to how utterly convincing the threat level is on The Horror. It’s a record you put on to get abused.

At least that’s how I understand it. How else to justify the anarchic squall on “West World” or the plodding, S&M-tinged “Beg Like a Human”? But this atmosphere is intoxicating, even addictive, pop life refracted and distorted through the prism of violently disaffected counterculture. So, goth rock--humans become animals, animals become carcasses, and guitars squeal like pigs getting slaughtered by a bulldozer, all in militarized common time. Part of Sacred Bones’ impeccable collection of Brooklyn bands who express themselves through varying intensities of nutshots, Pop. 1280 assault like The Men, but they’re darker, provocatively employing horrific imagery and obscenities in the service of establishing themselves on the fringe of mainstream taste.

Here, they revel, almost perceptibly gleeful in their cyberpunk ruckus. The noise on this thing is infectious; ghastly bass and synth fuzz makes for impressively grimy grooves and the jagged-edge, treble-only guitar of Ivan Lip provides the atmosphere. Still, what really carry Pop. 1280 are a) Zach Ziemann’s wrecking-ball drumming, and b) versatile vocalist Chris Bug. Sliding between the roles of dictator, dungeon-master, and, briefly, pathos-tortured singer, Bug acts as ringleader to The Horror’s dystopian circus. And to make a proper dystopia, Bug leans heavily on the human-dog image, pitting them as equals in an imagined world where biological order has gone to shit and man must rely on its long-dormant animalistic instincts to survive. As far as artistic depictions of military-fronted doomsdays go, the concept is pretty ho-hum, apocalypse, but as Bug does when he shouts instructions for doing the “Twist” on “Nature Boy,” he pulls off the potentially tacky with convincing swagger. The sincerity with which he delivers the couplet, “the thing about dogs is that they don’t know what they’re doin’/ I want you to beg like a human,” makes it difficult to swallow ironically, which is wonderful; Bug and Pop. 1280 are actively trying to force direct engagement with unsettling aspects of the subconscious instead of using such shock tactics as a cheap gimmick.

Chalk it up to 21st-century irony-exhaustion, but Pop. 1280’s apparent earnestness is the most appealing thing about them. Bug and his band play the fear card the classic way, as a 50s sci-fi flick whose main scare was showing rigidly ordered society turned onside itself. But while we currently look at that era of film with Mystery-Science-Theater’s taste for pastiche, Pop. 1280 own the aesthetic and make it real. In one of the myriad blog posts about Pop. 1280, Tiny Mix Tapes threw out the phrase “pop terrorism” to describe The Horror. I’d like to riff on that a bit; that a punk release shocks isn’t enough to give it merit. By definition, that’s the point of “punk.” But when it’s done this sincerely, not presented as symptomatic of character but as the character itself, when it’s believable, even when it’s radical, then it’s affective. And so The Horror is sort of terrifying, yes, but it’s saying something worth hearing, something devoid of artifice, interested in exposing that which we repress--masculinity as animalism--as a means of discovering truth.



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user ratings (54)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2012



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is good, guys. promise

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

paxman
February 10th 2012



4084 Comments


This sounds fucking awesome, all due to your excellent review. Good job and all that.

wabbit
February 10th 2012



6984 Comments


George Orwell 1984...really adam?


But this review is good and fuck this album is good.

wabbit
February 10th 2012



6984 Comments


also burn burn the worm

paxman
February 10th 2012



4084 Comments


Haha didn't see George Orwell there. There's probably more appropriate dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature to compare this to. But that's only judging from the review, as I haven't listened to the album yet.

chambered69
February 10th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mmmmmmmmmmmm yes

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2012



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh wait a minute, theres the book the band's named after. haven't read it but the description sounds
about right

chambered69
February 10th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is just as good as leave home in a different way

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2012



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sam what happened to your OG account?

chambered69
February 10th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you dont know the shit storm?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2012



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nope, thankfully. fb me it or somethin

DoubtGin
February 10th 2012



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's ok

chambered69
February 10th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

k

DoubtGin
February 10th 2012



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yup

chambered69
February 10th 2012



1253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

huh

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2012



10306 Comments


RIYL: adam downer

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Island
February 10th 2012



577 Comments


yea this prob sucks

Knott-
Emeritus
February 10th 2012



10195 Comments


wait are we cmg now

fuckthatnoise
February 10th 2012



1479 Comments


ive seen this getting a lot of Swans comparisons on other sites.

will probably check this out at some point, but those comparisons remind me that i really need to start delving into Swans' discog more.

Acanthus
February 10th 2012



9537 Comments


Gunna give this a try, really doesn't sound like it's going to be an alt/indie album though.

Digging: The Cure - The Head on the Door



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