Pop. 1280 specialize in noisy depravity with jagged grooves and a generally ugly aesthetic. The band roared into the hearts of indie rock fans with the sonic kick in the stomach that was their debut , 2011’s The Horror. Based in Brooklyn, they fit perfectly with the roster of their label Sacred Bones, which concentrates on the noisier, darker, and more psychedelic tendencies of indie rock. Pop. 1280 ooze the sonic touchstones of no wave, industrial, noise and a bit of post-hardcore. Lead singer Chris Bug rants like a madman throughout, sounding frighteningly similar to Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard’s David Yow in both the tone of his voice and his maniacal delivery. Pop. 1280 roar back with their second full-length, Imps of Perversion, and their sound very much recalls heyday Jesus Lizard without the heavy low-end groove that the Jesus Lizard did so well.
The sound of this album is a bit less scuzzy than on The Horror, but the general foundation of the band is still in tact. This is still music designed to confront and make you feel uncomfortable. Ivan Lip’s guitars dance around the driving rhythm section and his no-wave freak-outs often grow in intensity with Bug’s vitriolic vocals. The sound may be cleaner but the music is as ugly and off-putting as ever. “Lights Out” utilizes the tom-heavy tribal drum precedent set by early Birthday Party records. “The Control Freak” slithers along as a dementedly catchy lead guitar sits on top and verges on slipping out of tune while approximating the sound of insanity. “Population Control” strangely has a robotic voice joining Bug towards the end. The song stands out because it is of a much lower fidelity than the rest of the album, sounding like it was recorded live in a dank basement with one microphone capturing the band’s din. It is strange simply because it is the only song on the album that noticeably changes fidelity.
While Pop. 1280 still worships at the alter of the Birthday Party and Scratch Acid, Imps of Perversion expands the band’s use of electronics, incorporating gothic synthesizers in the vein of ‘70s art rock provocateurs Suicide to create a whirlwind of sound. “Nailhouse” uses these synths like a black wave continually crashing through the background. The song is a slow seven-minute-plus simmer that teases release every so often but falls back away until finally boiling over in the very last minute. “Human Probe II” also uses synthesizers to create a no wave blast of white noise. The guitar and synth in this song blend so perfectly that together they become a total black hole of absolute sonic assault.
“Do the Anglerfish” opens with a Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams”-style gothic keyboard line before Evol-era Sonic Youth guitars blast through. The synth continues to hum below the surface of the song, adding some texture to the swirling vortex of chaos that Pop. 1280 muster up. Throughout Imps of Perversion, Pop. 1280 find new ways to create their confrontational racket and the band definitely succeeds in incorporating these resh elements. With this second release, Pop. 1280 prove they are here to stay, joining the likes of Pissed Jeans in bringing the loud, sweat soaked insanity of bands on classic labels like Amphetamine Reptile into a new era.