The Pop Group
Year of Release: 2015
When the Pop Group first blasted onto the scene in 1977, there was a tangible sense that the punk movement (which was still in its infancy) was something that angry young men could use to fight against corrupt political powers while carving out their anachronistic identity. The way these Bristol teens engaged in the punk ethos (both in terms of aggression as well as ideology), not to mention incorporating elements of funk, dub, noise rock, and singer Mark Stewart's existential leftist lyrical concerns, made The Pop Group pioneers of a movement that was sadly short-lived. After releasing three albums over the course of four years, the band disbanded, only to surprisingly reform in 2010 for a batch of live reunion tours. Their cult legacy firmly intact over 30 years after their inception, Citizen Zombie is the album no one was expecting, and more importantly, who could have guessed it could be this good? With the original lineup back in action, The Pop Group wisely don't try to recapture the raw DIY magic of their youth, but at the same time, this is no sell-out stab at mainstream success either. Despite bringing in big-time producer Paul Epworth (Paul McCartney, Kate Nash), Citizen Zombie never feels streamlined. The higher production values creates an even more cacophonous sound; with pounding bass grooves, vocal delays, and warped synthesizers vying for attention amidst the classic rock/punk/funk intensity. Additionally, the use of drum machines and melodic pop undercurrents gives the whole thing a more modern edge, while still giving us eccentric weirdness and an almost Bowie-like fusion of disparate genres. A bit of the old with the new, but nothing short of invigorating.