CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

cover art

The Ladybug Transistor

The Albemarle Sound


If it wasn’t already apparent from the wealth of great pop albums in 1998, the early output in 1999 makes the case that we are in the midst of a great pop renaissance. And for once, British bands are not instigating it—although you could argue the popularity of Britpop paved the way in the American market for pop records. But the American pop resurgence contains little of the parochialism of New Britannia chic and is being driven by the Elephant 6 and like-minded groups who possess an experimental spirit and a desire to move beyond pop formula and create brand-new sounds.

Case in point, The Albemarle Sound proves the Ladybug Transistor is a standard-bearer of this new “movement.” Bearing an obvious debt to the orchestral pop of The Left Banke (“Walk Away Renee”) and the Zombies, Brooklyn’s very own wend their way through a slate of pristine, pastoral music that seems so thoroughly out of place in Manhattan’s eastern cousin on first glance. But then the songs invoke images of parks, oceans, beaches, and bays that stretch out from Brooklyn across Long Island. Characterized by luxuriant harmonies, irresistible hooks, and clever, creative instrumentation that includes swathes of pianos and strings alongside flutes, clarinets, and mandolins, The Albemarle Sound is all the evidence anyone needs that American pop bands are no longer playing catch-up with their European cousins.


Sarah Zupko founded PopMatters, one of the largest independent cultural criticism magazines on the web, back in the Internet's early days of 1999. Zupko is a former Executive Producer for Tribune Media Services, the media syndication arm of the Tribune Company, and a 10-year veteran of Tribune. Her other pursuits involve writing historical fiction and research in the fields of Slavic and German history, as well as general European cultural and intellectual history. Zupko studied musicology, film, and drama at the University of Chicago and media theory at the University of Texas, where she received her M.A.

Related Articles
5 Jul 2011
Clutching Stems is cohesive and enjoyable, but it also makes one wonder what could have been had the band decided to reach for the sky, as opposed to being content to just lounge about on the beach.
27 Aug 2007
It starts on a dusty road in Arizona and ends up tanned, penniless, and spent at a beachside bar just north of San Diego. In the process, it becomes the Ladybug Transistor's best work to date.
By Robert Hickey
9 Mar 2004
By Katy Widder
31 Dec 1994
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.