children of pop - What Does 69 Mean? - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

children of pop - What Does 69 Mean?

by Justin Pearson Rating:6 Release Date:2016-05-06

In an era of forward-thinking, progressive music, most experimental bands either make their way into the fold or end up being left behind. While not as dissapointing as the recent Yeasayer album, Children of Pop's sophomore effort, What Does 69 Mean?, still leaves a little something to be desired in the way of new, fresh pop, even with its tongue-in-cheek attitude. Having fun is all well and good, but the album could have benefitted from a more solid approach in the way of execution.

Awash with an original blend of acid house and 80s-ish pop, the album doesn't quite aim for the stars, but it still manages to have a little bit of fun even as it wanders along a broad, largely undefined path. Going from calm to wild, bi-polar opener 'Manic' goes through a few style changes before truly embracing the psychotic state it's named for. Getting crazy feels good here.

'No Escape' begins as a fragment that eventually gets fleshed out as a bouncy dance number. It seems a little confused with itself at first, but turns into one of the better tracks on the album.

'Taking Over' is similar to the way Grizzly Bear constructs a melody. It starts with both discord and distortion, eventually becoming a harmonious melody once the other elements and fully formed lyrics are added. There's a slow, warped, skipping-record quality about it. You have to find the groove, and only then can you fall into it.

The clear winner here is 'Jealous Lover'. It simultaneously blends the heart of a ballad with the pulse of a pop song. The melancholic synth line underneath the funk-tinged swagger gives it a supremely laid back vibe. It's one of the album's best examples of the loose, let's-have-fun brand of pop it goes after. Too bad the other songs didn't take the constructive cue this song provides.

'Girls Like' feels just out of reach, like it's missing the meat of the song. 'Painin 4 Luuuuuuv' contains muffled vocals that work to its detriment instead of bolstering it. The pleading, ballad-y 'Don't Change for Love' never gets off the ground and simply stays in the safe zone.

There are morsels of greatness scattered throughout What Does 69 Mean? They're sometimes hidden, and sometimes right on the surface. In general, though, they're not palpable enough, the album's experimental nature too strong to allow for its fun bursts of creativity to make any sort of real impact. For a band that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously (have a look at their bandcamp page and you'll see what I mean), the album is a fitting statement, even if it's somewhat lacking in direction.

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