Pom Poko

Cheater

Written by: LF on 08/02/2021 11:25:23

I first lost my heart to this crazy but insanely catchy Norwegian group back in 2017 with their apperance at Roskilde Festival. They were solid already back then, despite having only officially released three singles. They have been climbing ever upwards since, and here we are with the release of their second full-length album, "Cheater". With this album, Pom Poko have become even more eclectic in their songwriting but at the same time, they also seem to have become better at tying everything together in their signature style of quirky guitar music - equal parts playful rock and off-beat pop with a big splash of danceable punk energy. We end up with a bunch of songs that are easily as catchy as their previous material while varying greatly between soft and sweet, mathy tunes, and other more rock-fueled dance explosions. Some songs integrate the extremes better than others but overall, it's a strong record.

My favorites so far all appear on the first half of the album. "My Candidacy" is a great example of the faster and more raw-sounding songs on the record, but it still sports a gentle chorus that takes the tempo down for contrast in between the fun, up-tempo verses. The much softer "Andrew" builds on the combination of an incredibly catchy vocal melody with tight drumming and riffs with off-kilter chord changes that seem to unbalance the song so it must burst at the seams, yet it never does. The very first track here, "Cheater", even features some ferocious sections towards the end that remind me of the explosive guitar joy of math/post-rock mastodonts And So I Watch You From Afar, which is a great development.

As you might be getting, this is a group that rarely sticks to doing just one thing with each song, rather opting for combining unlikely elements at every turn. It's really impressive how they stick with these complexities while still managing to make the whole album deceptively effortless and very pleasant to listen to. A big part of this is no doubt due to how the tone and production for everything across this album are just spot-on, adding a plethora of great little extra sound-nuggets all over the album that makes it endlessly fun to listen to again and again. Thus elements like the odd, sliding effects in the chorus of "Danger Baby"; the phat sound of the chorus riff in "Curly Romance"; or the contrasts in the percussive combo of drums and guitars and their shifting sounds in "Andy Go To School", all make up some of my favorite parts of the album in themselves.

On the second half of the album, the eclecticism wins too much terrain on some songs in a way that is interesting to listen to but doesn't lend itself superbly to the same feeling of wholeness or pay-off that their best work does, at least to my tastes. All in all, though, it is a great album, and the feeling of unadulterated fun that their songs always convey has been a welcome splash of warm colour to an otherwise cold and grey first month of 2021.

8

Download: My Candidacy, Andrew, Cheater, Andy Go To School
For The Fans Of: brenn., Aiming For Enrike, Cardiacs
Listen: facebook.com/pompokounofficial

Release date 15.01.2021
Bella Union

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