Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Popical Island - Popical Island #2

Popical Island - Popical Island #2

Is there such a thing as a difficult second compilation? If so, the Popical Island collective had a lot to live up to after the roaring success of last year's release. A loose grouping of like-minded bands and musicians based in Dublin, their key characteristics were laid out on Popical Island #1: a commitment to DIY principles and largely lo-fi production, clever pop songcraft, devastatingly catchy hooks and C86-style energy.

While the sequel naturally doesn't have the same surprise element to it, in every other respect it's the match of its predecessor. It kicks off with Ginnels, who didn't appear on the first compilation - the project of Grand Pocket Orchestra's Mark Chester, Ginnels have already released one of the best domestic albums so far this year with a self-titled debut, and this continues in a similar vein: that is, charmingly shambolic and lo-fi indie. That's followed by Pantone247's 'Hello', a fantastic tune that recalls Honey's Dead-era Jesus and Mary Chain with its scuzzy guitars and vintage early-90's vibe.

As with its predecessor, what impresses about the compilation is that despite all the contributors sharing such common ground, they still manage to hold your attention throughout with a wide and diverse range of sounds. Standouts include the warmly classical jangle-pop sound of Goodly Thousands' 'Kiss Me Upside-Down', the garage-pop earworm of Squarehead's 'Candle', the chiming, hypnotically off-kilter sound of Hello Moon's 'Barefoot' and the exuberant rush of Grand Pocket Orchestra's 'Mr. Imaginative'. The curveball award goes to Tieranniesaur's 'Here Be Monsters', a simmering funk workout with an air of menace: sounding a bit like Remain In Light-era Talking Heads as refracted through the Popical lens, it gives way to a thrilling climax/coda that should be a highlight of their live shows.

Considering the way words like 'twee-pop' get bandied around in reference to Popical Island, you'd expect that 18 tracks would get a bit wearying, so it's no mean feat to create a compilation that keeps you guessing and (more than) satisfied throughout: the fact is there is no one reliable way to describe the Popical Island collective - other than, well, excellent.


Popical Island #2 by popical_island

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