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Review: 'POM POKO'

-  Label: 'Bella Union'
-  Genre: 'Punk/New Wave' -  Release Date: '16th January 2021'-  Catalogue No: 'BELLA111ODIG'

Our Rating:
Norway's lively art punk quartet are the kind of band that have PR scribes reaching for their thesauruses. Their high energy tunes are variously praised for melodies that are 'galvanic', 'giddy', 'fractious' and 'mellifluous'.

This is the band's second album after 2019's 'Birthday' and, of it, female singer Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit says “we wanted to embrace our extremes a bit more........ we aimed more for some sort of contrast between the meticulously written and arranged songs and a more chaotic execution."

Although she, Martin Miguel Tonne (guitar), Jonas Krøvel (bass) and Ola Djupvik (drums) studied jazz together at Trondheim Music Conservatory they started out playing noise punk before settling for pop with a twist. They are like a Norwegian version of Deerhoof.

In keeping with their quirky style, the group are named after a 1994 Japanese animated film produced as Studio Ghibli with Pom Poko being the sound made by racoon dogs drumming on their own bellies.

The ten tracks, none of which exceed four minutes, are sung in English but defy easy interpretation. The catchy clap-along of Andy Go To School is apparently about the pleasures of water parks but I doubt if this will be apparent to most listeners.

The tunes function as playful pop and as Jamtviet helpfully explains: “We like to mix the feeling of a surgically produced piece of music with random sounds." Her cutesy voice sweetly neutralises the brashness of the guitar backing making them seem naive yet worldly at the same time.   

The publicists draw attention to the "Breeders-style lurch" of Like A Lady and the "Bolan-esque belches" of Look and you could add other knowing references if you were so inclined.

Better, in my view, just to enjoy this as a fun pop record.
  author: Martin Raybould

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POM POKO - Cheater