Highly anticipated and absolutely superb new album from legendary English band The Popguns!
Purveyors of heartfelt, uncomplicated pop music, carried by melodies and vocals that go straight to the heart, the group’s debut single ‘Landslide’ in 1989 was voted into John Peel’s Festive 50 and a rush of brilliant singles and albums over the next six years assured the band a well-deserved place in pop history.
Recently the four original members reformed along with a new drummer and backing singer and this year has seen them play to enthusiastic audiences in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, and the prestigious Indietracks Festival.
The first Popguns album since 1996, ‘Pop Fiction’ is a truly magnificent return. Epic album opener ‘City Lights’ begins with a chiming guitar intro that builds into dreamy vocals telling a tale of misplaced affections and the alluring lights of the big, bad city, accompanied by some especially dazzling melodies. Meanwhile, ‘If You Ever Change Your Mind’ is a classic three-minute power pop tune with a wicked hook and a little twist in the tail. The song was inspired in part by an episode of the Danish political drama ‘Borgen’ and is a stunning showcase for the incomparable vocals of Wendy Pickles.
The album continues with the immediate pop hit ‘Lovejunky’ which was released earlier this year as a limited red vinyl 7” single. It’s a glorious song with soaring vocals, driving guitars, an insanely catchy chorus, and marvelous harmonies. Next, a long acoustic intro for ‘Still Waiting For The Winter’ showcases dual female vocals before the rest of the ‘Guns arrive for a reflective journey through a vignette of Popgun nights out on the Brighton seafront. The song references the band’s second single and live favorite ‘Waiting For The Winter’ from 1989, giving long-time fans even more to smile about.
‘Alfa Romeo’ is a single contender inspired by the fascinating story of American trumpeter Chet Baker, and the mood of the song perfectly fits the romantic image of the unimaginably cool Baker in his Alfa Romeo on the boulevards of San Francisco, Paris and Rome.
Side two of the album opens with the slow burner ‘Out of Sight’ with its tom-tom intro providing the base for some ethereal feedback guitar and gorgeous layered vocals. It’s an altogether different side to The Popguns as they sink into the divine sound of a long distance love affair quietly beating on a rainy Wednesday night. This segues into the sparse backing track of ‘Not Your Night Tonight’, which lets Wendy’s voice be heard in its full beauty with lyrical shades of Lou Reed and Bob Dylan and some beautifully twinkling keyboards.
‘Leaning on the Backline’ is a proper up-tempo indie guitar track and a nostalgic look back to the late 80s and the people and places around the band at that time, while ‘Something Going On’ sits perfectly beside any track from that time period as a classic Popguns song with Wendy’s vocal delivery leaving no doubt that this is still someone not to be messed with! Finally, ‘I’ll See You Later’ is a celebratory sign off to the album with The Popguns getting as close to rock as they probably ever will with some solid guitar riffs.
Utterly accomplished and bursting with confidence, ‘Pop Fiction’ is that great pop record The Popguns always promised when they formed 25 years ago and an absolutely spectacular return for the band. Pop perfection indeed!
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