Indelible hooks wrapped in odd sonic textures.
Two things are startlingly obvious the first time you listen to the debut album by New Zealand trio Popstrangers: 1) singer Joel Flyger often sounds uncannily like Ray Davies circa Something Else By The Kinks, and 2) these lads clearly love Radiohead circa The Bends and OK Computer. But further exploration reveals that underneath the somewhat experimental sheen of Antipodes -- detuned guitars and other odd noises, unexpected dynamic and tempo shifts, etc. -- lie some remarkable songs that slowly reveal indelible hooks. ("Jane" and "What Else Could They Do" are particularly strong earworms.) Conceptually, Popstrangers fit roughly between their contemporaries Alt-J and Tame Impala, neither as willfully experimental as the former nor as backwards-looking as the latter. Unlike Tame Impala's '60s and early '70s touchstones, the furthest Popstrangers reach into the wayback machine is their homeland's epic 1980s indie scene, with touches of The Verlaines' fuzzed-out guitar squalls and The Chills' foreboding atmospheres; it's telling that their earliest singles were released on New Zealand's epochal Flying Nun imprint. Sonically and emotionally varied while maintaining a consistent musical point of view, Antipodes is an album to get lost in.
|What Else Could They Do? (live at 95BFM)|