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  • David Bentley

Video of the week - Pom Poko – Like a Lady (new single from forthcoming album)

Hm. Better get yourself prepared for this one. For the first minute and 25 seconds I thought I’d tuned into one of the more bizarre parts of a Scandi-noir TV series episode. Some of these characters aren’t too far removed from the weirdoes currently gracing our screens on the Danish ‘DNA’ series on BBC4.

We’ve long learned to expect the unexpected from Pom Poko and I have fond memories of standing in the rain at the Øya Festival last year watching them complete their set with some of the bizarre creatures which have populated their previous videos prancing around the stage.

But even I was gobsmacked by this one.

‘Like A Lady’ was one of the first songs they wrote for their new album ‘Cheater’ which will be released in January. They started writing it in a cabin near Oslo (everyone in Oslo seems to have a cabin, self-isolation must be de rigueur up there) and finished it in Piemonte in Italy, where they also started recording it.

The lyrics evolved from jamming it and are about what makes, or what one thinks makes, a woman, what even being a woman means, and it’s also a kind of tribute to all the different ways of being a woman that are out there. Including the bearded ladies. I’ll give Pom Poko this much. I follow quite a few artists who would have made a meal of a song like that, imbuing it with all varieties of ultra feministic overtones. True to form, Pom Poko just have fun.

They’ve been saying for a while that they wanted to “embrace their extremes a bit more”. If you’ve seen them live you’ll be hard pressed to imagine how they can be any more extreme than they are already. Vocalist Ragnhild Fangel (has she dropped the ‘Jamtveit’ from her name? Like, say, Fiona Apple did with ‘McAfee-Maggart’? Just wondering) says they were hoping to create a greater contrast between “meticulously written and arranged songs and a more chaotic execution and recording” while also “exploring the less frantic parts of the Pom Poko universe”.

The first thing I’d say to that is while their output is always very well written and arranged it never feels like that; rather that it’s just one big spontaneous jam so they’ve nothing to prove in that respect. As for the less frantic parts, well we’ve heard them already on debut album ‘Birthday’ and other songs which didn’t make that cut. What they do here is what they’ve always been able to do, to explode out of what is the nearest they get to a ballad into a raucous, but controlled, cacophony. I can’t think of any contemporary band which does it better.

I have to confess that when I reviewed the first single from this new album, ‘Andrew,’ I wasn’t convinced, and asked Andy to review the second one, ‘My Candidacy’ so as to avoid potentially having to criticise a band I have a lot of time for, for a second time. No worries with this one though, they’re right back to form.

And I see that the video producer here is Marcus Forsgren, who has worked with America’s criminally underrated Arc Iris, a phenomenally innovative band. Much promise for the future there.

Incidentally Martin (blonde wig), good legs there, you almost had me fooled!

Find them on Facebook, Instagram, where you can also check newly announced dates in Scandinavia next year.


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