Album of the Week: 'Pom Poko' - 'Birthday'
If truth be told, then I have no idea what I'm going to say about the 'Pom Poko' album 'Birthday'. In some ways I feel I should just demand nicely that you all go and listen immediately, and allow yourself to be blown away by its energy, complexity and hugely entertaining array of sounds, but I guess I have to try and say something, even if I do feel so 'in awe' of their debut release that I've struggled to know what to say since its release a couple of weeks ago.
I guess I should start off by introducing them. 'Pom Poko' are from Norway, and they're a 4 piece band who've simply exploded onto the music scene in the last year or so. They met whilst studying at the Trondheim Music Conservatory, and as a band they take influences from a huge array of musical styles, from African music through to Punk, calling in at multiple points on the way. The result is an extraordinary blend of high energy sounds, and the attention they're getting from radio stations (including Album of the Day on Radio 6) to music websites (too numerous to name...) shows just how much everyone is engaged by them.
Within 1 minute of 'Theme #1' this explodes with a cacophony of noise, but it's 'My Blood' that really appeals, a warped pop song which switches between stripped back vocals and screeching guitars, and the variety in rhythms and sounds left me immediately scurrying back to listen again. 'Follow the Lights' is another track very possibly written in an unfathomable time signature, and I have no idea how they even begin to construct a song of this complexity. 'My Work Is Full of Art' reminds me, not for the first time, of fellow Norwegian (and part Swedish) band 'Svankropp', whilst I just love the rhythms and beats that sit behind 'Crazy Energy Night', it just takes the music in an outrageous direction, with some brilliant changes in tempo. After the slightly absurd but fun title track 'Birthday' (and there's nothing wrong with 'absurd'), we're offered 'Milk Trust', which I adore for its opening, and the way it builds and switches direction. And if that's too much at first listen, then there's tracks such as 'Day Tripper', warped high energy pop punk and then 'If U Want Me 2 Stay', which combines thunderous fuzzy guitars with sweet trippy vocals.
I guess the thing that really appeals to me in 'Birthday' is the complete freedom in the songwriting. I've seriously never heard anything quite like it, with a complexity which will take you months to decipher, but with a 'pop' mentality that makes it instantly appealing too. The melodies and vocals are engaging as well as entertaining, and I just love the huge range of musical influences that sit behind the songs. I have a huge bias towards bands like 'Cardiacs' obviously, and as such this is always going to be 'my' type of music, but 'Pom Poko' have delivered an outstanding album that will have huge widespread appeal, and as such we're going to be hearing so much about this band. See you at the tiny Castle Hotel Manchester in April, and the Deaf Institute Manchester later in the year - 'Pom Poko' are the band of 2019.
Nordic Music Review 9/10