Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Pop Group-Citizen Zombie

Freaks R Us

For the uniformed, The Pop Group is a British post-punk band that was formed back in 1977 in Bristol, England. Mere teenagers at the time of their formation, The Pop Group made their vinyl debut in March of 1979 with the release of the cult single "She Is Beyond Good and Evil". Both the single (a punk-funk freakout of a cut if ever there was one!) and the band's praise-worthy first full-length album, "Y", were released on Radar Records with "Y" appearing one month after the band had first issued "She Is Beyond Good and Evil". The following year another album appeared and there was a split single with the Slits released. The band also put out the misc. compilation "We Are Time", but for all intensive purposes The Pop Group was done by 1980. In 2010 original members of The Pop Group got back together with the full-length "Citizen Zombie" serving as the band's first post-reunion LP. Released in late February of this year, with recording sessions having taken place over the course of two years at various locations before it was finally finished in late summer 2014 at Epworth's studio in Crouch End, London, "Citizen Zombie" is the first new studio album for this British band in 35 years! It follows 1980's "For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?" and features original band members Mark Stewart (lyrics, vocals), Gareth Sager (guitar), Dan Catsis (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums). Production duties fell on multi-Grammy and Academy Award winner Paul Epworth (U2, Lorde, FKA Twigs, Adele, Cee Lo Green, Florence & The Machine, etc.), but sound-wise and theme-wise this is the same The Pop Group as before only older and perhaps a little wiser. That means their still socially-conscious and (by necessity) political in their approach and that when it comes to music of The Pop Group you should expect the unexpected. The group's music is anything but typical and while that can often times be a real blessing it can also be a curse. The Pop Group's new album was a hit-miss for me at first spin, but each new listen offers something different. Album number three for The Pop Group opens with the nearly four minutes long title track. While the industrial noise that is "Citizen Zombie" is a tragically harsh way to start things off thankfully the album gradually gets better with each new number just as it get's better with each new spin. "Mad Truth" is more like The Pop Group of old and from that moment forward these post-punk rockers offer plenty of good will to fans and newcomers alike. It's not a perfect studio piece by any stretch of the imagination, but for what it is and what it represents it's as pleasurable a conversation as one can hope to have with The Pop Group.

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