Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Noise Pop, Noise-Rock
Hey kiddos, were you too young to catch Hüsker Dü live and in the flesh? Were you just a glimmer in your parents’ eyes when the Pixies were dominating alternative rock in the late ‘80s? Didn’t get a chance to appreciate Nirvana before Kurt Cobain made a mess of his grey matter? Were clueless about My Bloody Valentine until well after the fact? Well, Generation Y, have I got the record for you! You see, there’s this three-piece band called Popstrangers out of New Zealand that is issuing its debut album after releasing several singles on the lauded Flying Nun label, and it’s a stunner. It’s called Antipodes and it should cement the group as a force in the noise pop spectrum and easily be their breakthrough album. Combining elements of all of the bands I’ve listed above, if not sounding like a scuzzier version of Australian cousins Tame Impala, Antipodes is one of those LPs that has a true sonic arc to it: it just gets better and better as it goes along, let alone the more you listen to it.
Though I was too young to distinguish the media inflicted rivalry of Britpop and grunge, what fascinated me about both movements was how both could infuse a tuneful pop sensibility with the amplification of an electric guitar. While the withdrawn protagonists of grunge discovered how to shroud melody in scathing dissonance, the ebullient outburst of Britpop featured its hooks front and center, proof of a new generation that had the tenacity to expose their exemplary musical legacy to the world. And yet both dealt with a certain degree of irony, equally reactionary to each other’s stances while defending comparable core values – energy vs.
On Antipodes, New Zealand's Popstrangers deliver a more muscular and nuanced version of the mix of melody, noise, and rock that they've brandished since their early singles on their homeland's venerated Flying Nun label. While there are still hints of that imprint's brashly jangly sound, Popstrangers owe more to the Pixies' loud-quiet-loud dynamics, Nirvana's outbursts, and the intricately tangled guitars of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Sonic Youth. Even these influences are more echoes than obvious signposts, and like their Carpark brethren Cloud Nothings, Popstrangers carve out their own territory within this sonic realm.
New Zealand is not somewhere known for producing a wealth of contemporary musical talent; comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords or Crowded House two of the more memorable imports. However, Popstrangers may just change that. After releasing several singles on fabled New Zealand label Flying Nun, the trio arrive with their sonically-charged and intriguing debut album Antipodes.
You’d be easily forgiven for assuming Popstrangers were very recently formed. All of a sudden, they’ve become blogger hot property, following single ‘Heaven’, and a timely namecheck from Splashh. However, in their native New Zealand the band have been perfecting their craft since 2010 and the release of their ‘Happy Accidents’ EP.‘Antipodes’ was recorded in the basement of an old theatre in Mt Eden which used to be a dancehall in the 1930s, and the core of this warped album sounds like it has been haunted by the vintage surroundings of its creation.