Within the panoply of bands resurrecting the rockabilly attitude of yesteryear, The Horrorpops have done what few others can – stand out. They’ve managed to bridge a genre gap by incorporating pop hooks and a brash, decidedly rocking sound into what could otherwise have been an exercise in uninspired replication, and by swing-bashing out a uniquely accessible template upon which to offer their wares, they’ve reached even those of us who couldn’t care less about Eddie Cochran.
Maybe “couldn’t care less” is harsh. Point is, though, even the most passionate detractor of countrified grooves played by cause-free rebels could be set straight with a listen to this Denmark-bred Rhythm and Punk trio.
With such a devoted following and widespread acclaim, one might assume The Horrorpops are something of a historic institution – hard to believe, then, that this year’s Kiss Kiss Kill Kill is but their third studio album. With it comes the band’s most mature collection of songs to date – whereas Hell, Yeah was neatly-packaged defiance and Bring It On! showed an almost too refined side of the band, Kiss Kiss Kill Kill has married their sneering, high-energy punk sensibility with a newfound soulfulness which then gave birth to a multifaceted surf-goth baby that’s as sparse as it is powerful; as despairing as it is upbeat.
Traces of influence outside the predictable scope of a Gretsch hollow-body are heard here more than ever, unabashedly taking cues from sounds as seemingly disparate as a vague overlay of polished, Vital Idol – rakishness on the title track to a gnarly, scorned-woman growl ala Brody Dalle on “Boot2Boot.” “Hitchcock Starlet” is a horror movie anthem that will put any uncertainty of bassist/vocalist Patricia’s vocal abilities to rest; whereas on “Everything’s Everything” she’s in danger of her sultry sounding tired, she shines here.
Guitarist Nekroman lets loose with unbridled noodling that verges on glam metal riffage on “Highway55,” and drummer Niedermeyer, while still relegated to 4/4 beats of a very basic variety, is a hard enough hitter that he never falls into the background. Unfortunately, he’s also not a flashy drummer, and while the lack of dynamics are somewhat made up for with the bass, his most notable moments amount to naught but a few quick fills on “Thelma and Louise” and “MissFit.”
The Horrorpops’ most winning quality, perhaps, is their ability to strip down songs without them sounding anemic: there’s plenty of space for each instrument to breathe deeply, but neither is there ever the sense that their songs are in need of any more layers. Kiss Kiss Kill Kill showcases their proclivity for this balanced song arrangement and then gives you tunes that fall just this side of catchy to boot. Give this sucker at least a peremptory listen or be square.Powered by Sidelines