Music Reviews
Imps of Perversion

Pop. 1280 Imps of Perversion

(Sacred Bones) Rating - 5/10

I’ve always felt that if you want your band to stand out, sounding aggressive is always a good way to go. It won’t necessarily make you unique – hundreds of band are mining influences from punk and extreme music these days – but if you ask me, nothing demands a listener’s attention better than spitting venom in their faces and treating music as a weapon. From Pissed Jeans to Iceage to Savages, this year has seen many talented groups captivate listeners by ripping out their jugular with confrontational-yet-compelling releases, and it’s hard to deny that much of the appeal of these bands comes directly from their antagonizing nature. But you have to ask yourself, is that really all it takes to make a great album?

Based on their latest release, I get the feeling that Pop. 1280 might believe so. Though they’ve only been around for a handful of years, the New York based post punk band has taken just about every measure possible to assure you they’re not here to be your friends. The group’s blend of Jesus Lizard-esque post hardcore, goth aesthetics, and sci-fi weirdness make them fit like a glove within the Sacred Bones roster, and their debut full-length last year, the all-too appropriately named The Horror, was an unforgiving dirge of coarse, pummeling riffs and dystopian imagery. It’s not that Pop. 1280 is particularly better than their contemporaries in sculpting grotesque music, but they definitely seem more committed to the aesthetic, with nearly every track the group crafts utilizing a palate solely of bile, blood, and piss, for better or worse. But while The Horror felt somewhat refreshing in its violent austerity upon first listen, the shock was short-lived. Ultimately, I knew that next time around, I’d need more than horror in order to be impressed.

Unfortunately, the group's sophomore release, Imps of Perversion, does very little to push the group outside of the boundaries they set up on their last release. It’s not necessarily the same album as The Horror – it feels much lengthier and denser than their debut – but instead of trying to refine their sound or implement some variety, Imps of Perversion feels more like an attempt by the group to drag out their dirge to even more sickening levels of macabre. It’s a noble effort for sure, but with little to nothing about the group’s sound having changed since their last album and very little variety within the album itself, there’s no initial shock to draw you in this time around, and the strength of the album is more dependent on the strength of the songs themselves – an area that the band is far from having mastered.

Without that initial “wtf-ness” to jump-start Imps of Perversion, however, Pop. 1280’s weaknesses unfortunately begin to shine. The group admittedly has a very commanding and powerful rhythm section, but this force is poorly matched by the bands thin, prickly guitar sound and singer Chris Bug’s vocals, which, although is quite ferocious in small doses, never changes infliction and sounds almost monotonous through the album’s span.

Ultimately, monotony is the biggest issue the album faces. The album isn’t that long – actually, it’s shorter than The Horror by a few minutes – but it feels much longer than it is by comparison due to the fact that far too many songs overstay their welcome. There are a few shining moments of clarity in briefer songs like Do the Anglerfish and Dawn of Man, but the longer moments, like Nailhouse and Human Probe, really work to drag things down to a frustrating slog. This is amplified even further by the fact that most songs are hardly discernible from one another and feature few standout riffs or melodies, reducing the album to a big sludge-colored blur. It’s a loud, raucous affair for sure, but as much power and aggression Pop. 1280 can inject into each and every track they create, it can’t distract from the fact that Imps of Perversion is a muddled, frustrating affair, and it’s clear that Pop. 1280 still have ways to go when it comes to developing their sound.