Review Summary: Popstrangers. No strangers to pop.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
As a New Zealander, one always struggle to name any decent bands with potential. Of course the New Zealand music scene has been largely dominated by groove, dance and wannabe-pop artists who often or not, employ little innovative difference to their mainstream counterparts making New Zealand music sound like recycled trash that honestly should remain in a hippie store. So when Popstrangers released their debut album Antipodes, the word potential comes washing over me just as the record does.
In all fairness, this is a decent album. Its neither good nor bad, but what it really does is experiment. The first track Jane pretty much sums up the record. With a stretching bass line and a suffocating distortion ( that feels like someone is trying to put a pillow over your head) its oddly neither melodic nor depressing grunge. What Popstrangers uniquely creates, is some sort of sound in which I would like to call 'antipop' and is the main theme expressed throughout the album. This antipop reminds me of early Pavement and even to the stretch what Nirvana had the potential to do except this sound is refreshingly...annoying. And when I say annoying, I mean it in a positive way. For example in the second track, In Some Ways we immediately hear this whining pedal rift that is even more depressing then Eeyore f**king life. But as listen on we find ourselves wanting more despite its lack of melodic ideas.
However by Witches Hand, Popstrangers put on their 'pop' hats and blasts a rocking tune with heaps of noise and bass like the previous tracks. From there we move on to What Else Can They do which imo is the probably the best track on the album. It is here we finally hear Popstrangers full potential. A killer melody but with infused so much antipop that makes Kurt Cobain's grunge sound like high school musical. With lyrics like: " Say the right things to get away! Hell!..." and the title name repeated as much as porn advertisement on your computer, its so seemingly depressing and postmodern while keeping intergrity of pop.
Then we get Cat Eye's and Full Fat which follow the first two tracks demeanor. To be honest, listening on repeated times, it is hard to distinguish them based on their similar format but within each of these two tracks is hidden potential melodic frames like What Else Can They Do, but never fully developed.
Afterwards we reach their first single, Heaven. This is the most formulated pop song in the album but deservedly the most aural pleasuring. Like when Joel Flyger blasts out the chorus "Do I Do I Do I Know you..." it instantly takes me back to a happy masturbation which really nails down to what this track is all about. See if Popstrangers produced an album full of these tracks i have no doubt the whole of ***ty New Zealand music industry would be sucking up to them but instead they do the honorable thing and tell all of us to f**k off because that not what they are about.
The last four tracks resumes the depressing sound of the former tracks except Roxy Brown gets a special mention for being technically clever with its progressive style. Occasion is boring and probably the weakest track and shouldnt be in this experimental album.
So to finish it off, this is a good album which clearly puts Popstrangers on the mark as being the next big thing. Their style is obviously not for everyone and to say the very least, even alternative muso's may not like this antipop. But hey, finally New Zealand gets some new style of music and definitely that should get a good pat on the back I reckon. Im definitely looking forward to their next album only so if they refine their sound to what they really want. More aural pleasure please.