Review Summary: It is quite hard to tell the difference between the 1987 and 2017 tracks that this album is comprised from. An excellent post-punk album.
It is quite trendy these days in music to do “Back To The Future” trick, that is for the bands that were long gone to suddenly come back and start anew. Some of them deserve to be back, some shouldn’t have bothered. Long lost Canadian punk poppers GrOuPoEm are one of them with a real back to the future album in Dirt Church. Probably a lot of Canadians themselves forgot about these guys, so should they, along with the rest of us bother?
Actually yes. But a bit of a background story is in order first. These guys started out as far back as 1983 as Mr. Science but then switched to their real (and current moniker) in 1986. An EP came out, a Sort American tour ensued, album preparations began, and then that was about it. The members went to play on with No Means No, Gwar, Psychic TV, Painted Willie and scores of others. Then somebody fished out those long forgotten tracks recorded in 1987 and the band were back together. But instead of just re-issuing the old material, they recorded additional material somewhere in Vancouver, and voila, here’s Dirt Church!
Two things hit you by surprise first with this album - firstly, you have no inkling which tunes are from 1987 and which ones are from 30 years on, they sound as if they were all recorded in one session! Secondly, you realize it makes no difference - they sound new and fresh, ’87 or’17 makes no difference! A few obvious reasons for that - the guitar player Terry Robinson wrote all the songs and him and the singer Marph aka Mr. Science wrote the lyrics. Actually, they are great lyrics, try Affluenza and Hall Of Shame for size. While the rhythm section of Christopher Lee and Darren Katamay keep up exactly as they should, it is Robinson’s great guitar work and Marph’s vocals that are somewhere between Bob Mould and Pere Ubu’s David Thomas that really do the job.
Mentioning Mould and Thomas, you can get the idea where GrOuPoEm comes from - Husker Du, Ubu, Minutemen, PIL, sounds that sound fresh today as when they were made, and GrOuPoEm actually show that could be done with combining new and old material together and making it sound the same. You can call this intelligent punk pop at its best. In that, they had great help from Tim Crich and Craig Wadell who among themselves worked with Bowie, Jagger and the Buzzcocks, just among the few.
A big surprise and a welcome one at that, reminding us that some sounds need to be re-vamped.