Music

Pottery Take Us Deep Into the Funky and Absurd on 'Welcome to Bobby's Motel'

Photo: Luke Orlando / Courtesy of Partisan Records

With Welcome to Bobby's Motel, Pottery have crafted songs to cleanse your musical pallet and keep you firmly on the tips of your toes.

Welcome to Bobby's Motel
Pottery

Partisan

26 June 2020

Before we even consider Montreal five-piece Pottery's musical exploits on their debut album, the elephant in the room must be addressed. Who is Bobby, and why should I care about his motel? Bobby's Motel, according to the band, is an alternate reality crafted from the collective and absurd consciousness of the band. Bobby himself cannot be better described than in the Pottery's own words; "Bobby is a pilot, a lumberjack, a stay at home dad, and a disco dancer that never rips his pants. He's a punching bag filled with comic relief. He laughs in the face of day-to-day ambiguity, as worrying isn't worth it to Bobby."

Excellent, so this is a concept album… or is it. Trying to find a consistent theme or plotline throughout Welcome to Bobby's Motel is nigh on impossible. The band are remarkably economical with their lyricism, and the album is built on beguilement and non-sequiturs. I suppose Pottery's debut is a concept album so long as the concept is "there is no concept, and everything is absurd". Putting all of this preamble to one side, what needs to be said is that Pottery's debut is a fascinating album and one steeped in musicality and musical history.

To get an insight into Pottery's World (or maybe Bobby's World?) listen to the album's lead single "Texas Drums Part I" along with the similarly absurd and dream-like music video. This track shows the characteristics of Pottery; a funk so funky it dances itself into a chaotic panic; limited lyricism that still seems to hit the mark and punctuate straight into your insecurity; and a witty irreverence that excitedly leads you down many a dark and unexpected alleyway. On the album "Texas Drums" is expanded into a six-minute journey into the unknown. Added to the most accessible half, already released as a single, are twists and turns into some of the most experimental moments on the album. Part II begins sounding like a Giorgio Moroder electronic disco classic and quickly shifts to a dark distorted disco, reminiscent of Fat White Family's 2019 release Serfs Up, mixed with the auxiliary percussion and polyrhythm you would expect to hear on a Fela Kuti jam.

Pottery wears their influences on their sleeve; flavors of post-punk royalty are frequent throughout the album. Along with Talking Heads, Gang of Four, the Pop Group, Devo, and the Birthday Present, among others, can all be heard living in the new musical experiments on this furiously frenetic debut. Clearly, the band have a lot of respect for post-punk and the epoch's lasting influence. More than just a melting pot of influences forced together, Welcome to Bobby's Hotel will switch on a dime from a more balladic Orange Juice infused track ("Hot Like Jungle") to a raucous Birthday Present imbued shout ("NY Inn"). Like post-punk, Pottery's style has links that stretch further afield. More hard rock and metal sensibilities are married with a softer, more mellow aesthetic on "Reflection". Surf music and 1960s rock 'n' roll creep in on "Texas Drums, Pt. I & 2" with it swooning electric guitars and the B-52s influence in style and delivery.

The polyrhythmic and infectious sounds of Afrobeat can be heard throughout the album, but they are at their most potent on "Hot Heater". Short staccato 16th notes, repeated chants, and heavily syncopated drum beats make this track a real hip mover. Although David Byrne and Talking Heads were also influenced by Afrobeat and African drumming, Pottery have placed their mark on post-punk-Afrobeat fusion -- their sound as much their own as it is similar to Talking Heads.

Welcome to Bobby's Motel is bursting at the seams with intrigue and absurdity. Jam-packed with such strong and vibrant flavors, the album is not a taste you can forget. Pottery pulls through on all of their promise of combined art-pop acid trips and anarchic dancefloor funk. With their eclectic debut, Porridge has firmly placed themselves on the map as they confidently look for the artistic stardom of their post-punk idols.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


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.