Bop English is the solo project / labour of love of White Denim frontman James Petralli. Debut Constant Bop has been in the workings for years, and that time and craft is evident in the depth of the recordings. Available on CD, but if I were you I’d get it on vinyl, which is pressed to blue and yellow splattered wax, and is exclusive to independent record shops like us!
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My favourite thing about this record is that it invokes its own applause. Bop, as I am going to call the lead of White Denim from here on out, happily samples the sound of clapping and cheering on “Dani’s Blues”, and why not -- it’s a joyous slice of soft rock that sounds like Steely Dan have decided to cover a less weird Of Montreal song. If that description doesn’t sound far from the joyous and excessive band Bop fronts, known contentiously among our office as White Denim (because we all wear white jeans and are ever-so-rightly cheesed off), then it’s because his solo project is a mere extension of their sound: fun, nostalgic and full of forthright silliness. It deserves a round of applause; a little one, but a round nonetheless.
Bop adds the whole revisionist folk thing here, strumming silky songs like “Trying”, framed around an acoustic performance but bringing in soft percussion and additive vocal harmonies. “Trying” is a boisterous narrative about a daily routine filtered through lovelorn psych pop -- when the brass comes in, the whole thing feels complete, another example of Bop’s obsession with building his songs like slowly developed lego castles.
It’s joyous, soothing, and sometimes thrilling. A drumbeat that rivals Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened” is used for “Fake Dog”, which takes exciting chords -- engineered after that St. Vincent sound -- and starts vocoding around the place in good spirits. It’s silly and pleasant: two things that occasionally go together so well in this indie pop world.
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