Pom Poko – ‘Birthday’ album review

Pom Poko birthday album review new music Bella Union

Photo credit: Kristin Slotterøy

Bella Union signings Pom Poko met while studying at Trondheim music conservatory and claim their distinctive sound has a ‘Norwegian punky sweetness’. Following appearances at The Great Escape and plays on Radio 1 and 6 Music, their debut album ‘Birthday’ lands on 22 February and promises to be quirky, creative and unpredictable…

‘Theme #1′ combines danceable drumbeats with spoken-word samples of ‘sublime, sufficient’ and comes off somewhat like a grappling match between Deerhoof, Anamanaguchi and And So I Watch You From Afar. There are short, sharp bursts of guitar and high-pitched vocals thrown into the mix of the energetic punk rock of ‘My Blood’. This song features a bass-led breakdown with harmonies as Ragnhild sings about how ‘my body is a flower’. ‘Follow the Lights’ has chunky riffs, layers of feedback and industrial noise backing up vocals that sound like they belong on a Bond soundtrack and ‘My Work is Full of Art’ is altogether more funkadelic with lyrics including ‘No need to face my fair, I just get freaky’.

‘Blue’ is more experimental in tone, although it has a melody that reminded us of Best Coast and the other chillwave bands of the late ’00s. ‘Crazy Energy Night’ sounds like latter-day Blur collaborating with Yeah Yeah Yeahs with its experimental ‘Bugman’-style noise-pop. The cowbell is hit with ferocity, the guitars are drenched in feedback and vocals become more fraught as it reaches 120mph. ‘Birthday’ has more of a Battles sound as the band sing about ice cream and other things you find at a party, although not without some spikiness: ‘It’s my birthday honey, don’t forget to hug me’; ‘I’m not your bitch’.

‘Daytripper’ has a nod to the famous Beatles sound of the same name in its guitar work and is full of short and sharp punk-pop riffs. Clocking in at over 5 minutes, ‘If U Want Me 2 Stay’ is the longest song on the album and has an industrial feel with ‘la, la, la’ being sung over squelchy feedback. It has a clattering of drums as the band claim If you want me to say, I’ll be happy’.

This experimental art pop album doesn’t play by the rules and leaves a lasting impression. It’s a perfect listen for fans of everything from math rock to The Slits-style punk…

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