Popstrangers - Antipodes - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Popstrangers - Antipodes

by Amy Putman Rating:6 Release Date:2013-02-25

The first thing you notice about Popstrangers' music is that it sounds far away. It has a static-filled fuzz of distance which is incalculable; they could be in next door's basement or a thousand miles away at the bottom of a lake. They exist in a bubble of separation, like music leaking through from a parallel world; not quite here but not alien either. This distance shifts throughout the album, riding in waves of disconnection and attention; mewling emotional rawness and tongue-in-cheek commentary.

The lead singer's voice has a haunting quality, not particularly tuneful but pleasing and atmospheric. It resonates with the music and lifts what could be bland post-indie into something more effective and prettier. 'Pretty' is the word; this album has some beautiful sequences and interesting delicate twists of tone and technique, but overall lacks depth, either sonically or lyrically. It lacks deeper meaning or firmer ground; it lacks oomph and fervour.

That said, though pretty, it is also clever. It flits carefully and with skill between supported layers of energy and hollow shaking loneliness. The band adeptly blend different paces and tones, playing with silence and discord as much as traditional rock tunes which sit back, allowing for the pre-eminence of the vocals.

There is some really interesting use of the snare and cymbal, as well as flirty clashes and flats reminiscent of some East Asian music, which adds to the prettiness. They play with long notes, giving way to a dominance of forward-driving rhythm which keeps up energy levels enough so the album does not drag. There are a couple of tracks, most noticeably the first track, 'Jane', which stand out from the rest as being particularly lovely, but overall this album is a bit samey. It is good that they have a developed signature style but this easily leads to a loss of concentration.

Overall, this is an excellent standard of background music, but it will never rock anyone's world. It's great to work to, to save you from any insipid, bland dross, and might be pretty good sex music, but it won't hold your focus long enough to merit being the sole focus of your mind. It's a cut above most radio offerings of today, and certainly a better class of backdrop for any activity, as well as being among the upper echelons of new indie/post-indie, whichever camp you're in, but I can't imagine anyone buying a t-shirt or raving about them to their friends.

Antipodes is pleasant, pretty, clever, but just misses the indefinable wow. Perhaps in time they'll get there - their skill shows promise and the voice is sweet, but they're not there yet. For now, it's cucumber sandwich music: Lovely on a hot summer's day but a little bland to repeat all the time, and certainly nothing to get passionate about.

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