Music

Minipop: A New Hope

Chris Baynes

Minipop's debut album is all very pretty, but the dreamy feel of A New Hope is so all-encompassing as to render it frustratingly distant and cold where it could radiate poppy warmth.


Minipop

A New Hope

Label: Take Root
US Release Date: 2007-11-06
UK Release Date: 2007-11-12
Amazon
iTunes

Minipop is a deceptive name. You might well expect the bearers of such a moniker to be Deerhoof-esque quirkophiles or, failing that, manufactured teeny-boppers. In reality though, they peddle indie-pop of the sultry, melancholy variety, all wistful sighs and serious facial expressions. It's difficult to dislike Minipop; their music, overflowing with sweet melodies and completed by Tricia Kanne's silken vocals, emanates a certain warmth and approachability. Unfortunately, it's just as hard to love them, too. Because while A New Hope finds melodies easy to come by, it often does so at the expense of emotion, rendering it lacking in personality and distinction. Indeed, there's frustrating lack of feeling pervading over this, Minipop's debut offering, which can leave the listener feeling distinctly cold, despite its picturesque charms and accessibility.

Not that A New Hope is a bad album, per se. BBC muso Steve Lamacq may have been guilty of wild exaggeration when he referred to opener "Like I Do" as "one of the best five songs in the world today", but there is admittedly plenty going on here to like. Said track's swirly keyboards and simple-but-effective guitar, combined with a Kanne's childlike vocal delivery make it a highlight, as is the restrained catchiness of "Generator"'s hazy chorus line.

Musically, imagine a slightly more organic Metric; minus one part electronica and plus one six-string. But where Metric revel in Emily Haines's ability to swoop from sultry cool to heart-rending peaks at will, Minipop find Kanne stuck in the same gear for the duration of their debut long-player. Call it understatedness if you wish, but A New Hope undeniably suffers from its single-minded inability to change tempo or mood. Indeed, Kanne's delivery is so persistently languid that you begin to suspect her indifference to the whole affair; the album is, almost without exception, an exposé of melancholic sighing; a dreamy gaze into space. This wouldn't necessarily be a band thing if such lamentation was confined to a lyrical, or even vocal, sphere, but unfortunately the music, too, follows suit, plodding along where it should be zipping, opting for comfort rather than excitement.

Take "Ask Me a Question", for instance. A flower-scented love song at heart, it could be achingly affecting, but instead, despite Kanne's sweet-as-sugar delivery, its flavourlessness renders it merely nice. The only time Minipop truly come close to transcending this 'mere' prettiness and truly making it into beauty instead, is in the yearnful star-gazing of "Wearing Thin", where Kanne's wistfulness ebbs, flows and finally swells into the finale we've been waiting for. Sadly, it is only a brief venture into more colourful territory, and come the smooth but unremarkable sighs of succeeding track "Fingerprints" we are back on the familiar ground.

To be fair, Minipop do perk up for a brief respite from disconsolation, but unfortunately when the cycle is broken it is in the form of the saccharine pop chirpings of "Butterflies", which is at times so lyrically infantile ("I see your eyes/ wide awake and/I love your eyes/They're so amazing") that you begin to wish Kanne would revert back to melancholy. The naive simplicity of "Like I Do"'s chorus ("Who loves you like I do?") is endearingly effective; here it is eye-rollingly juvenile.

All in all it's a wasted opportunity -- the majority of the ten tracks here have decent, sometimes great, melodies at their core, and Kanne's snow-soft vocal delivery is undeniably held up by considerable talent. But with Minipop's speed of choice seemingly stuck as 'plod', A New Hope is a frustrating listen that makes you wish they'd opted to ply just some of the incessant languidness with a shot or two of adrenaline. It all makes for very easy listening, and, if that's all you want, then fair enough, but when the band clearly have the talent for more than this, its difficult not to find the lack of variety and verve in this record infuriating.

5


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.