With a name like that, you best be either hella catchy or good at making jokes. Of course, post-punk’s enfants terribles The Pop Group are both, and eager to show themselves off to you once again. Their first release in 35 years, Citizen Zombie is sure to be a relief to those long-time fans who have missed them so much.
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- Citizen Zombie by The Pop Group
So The Pop Group are back, 35 years after they released their last material, and they're sounding less evocative of their namesake than ever. At least that's what the opening title track suggests: a cacophony of harsh, industrial noise atop of Mark Stewart’s typically raucous vocals, which reference Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’, of all things.
Then follows the comparatively jovial ‘Mad Truth’ – recalling arguably what the Pop Group do best: it’s a dance-punk fusion that’s the most FM friendly of the LP and has the same dance-y, jagged likeability as their most renowned tune, ‘We Are All Prostitutes’, so it’s hardly surprising why it’s the lead single.
The Pop Group haven’t strayed too much from their usual tricks here as they continue to incorporate elements of dub, funk and jazz alongside a visceral punk rock spirit. There’s still a political undertone to some of Stewarts’ lyrics so it’s good to hear that they’ve not gone all optimistic on our asses. ‘Nations’, for example, is a spoken-word observance of “deranged victims of consumerism” in which Stuart's bleak discourse is underpinned by ominous synth. It’s these passionate, charged moments where Citizen Zombie triumphs, but there’s perhaps not enough memorable tracks here to warrant repeated listens.
Though not quite as on form as I’d have liked, Citizen Zombie carries on where The Pop Group left off: marking their territory on a sound that not many people have been able to pull off by defying genre boundaries by the bucketful. And in that sense they don’t really sound like anyone else around at the moment - not that they ever have, in fact - so it’s a welcome return.
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