Power-pop. It’s an interesting term. It’s a much misunderstood term. To some it might imply that navigating its mysteries require you to merely crank up the guitars in a pop tune. Or swap sonic weight for more infectious melody in a rock number. Well, yes, it is sort of about that but it is about so much more too. So much so that it is regarded as a genre in its own right, leaning on those titular genres but distinct and proudly its own beast.Think of it as pop with integrity, rock with enhanced melodic deftness. Better still, play the latest full-length sonic platter from the wonderfully named It’s Karma It’s Cool, their delicious follow up to last year’s Hipsters and Aeroplanes.
Opening salvo Our Love Is An Amplifier pretty much answers all of the questions and thoughts raised above. The song runs on an infectious and accessible melodic groove and whilst it doesn’t exactly borrow from the rock and roll world, it layers up its own pop textures until it has a similar reassuring weight to it. And never once does it bang on about cars or girls, never once does it feel as if anyone has their foot on a monitor whilst playing Okay, there are girls, but interesting girls.
The title track cocoons itself in lush guitar washes, chiming, and indeed charming, cascades of notes and hazy harmonies, resulting in a sort of Summer of Love vibe but one which has been built with the benefit of hindsight, a modern take on the hippy dream soundtrack. And from there they build a gorgeous soundscape of jangle and jingle, pop poise and 12-strings textures, infectious grooves and deft dynamics.
New Age Eve is underpinned with a bouncing, ska-like guitar, Ghosts of Rome is a grand and cinematic slice of gorgeousness and Battle of Burnt Out Bliss is suitably shimmering, succulently picked guitars over euphoric background waves.
It’s not rock. It’s not pop. It’s better than both of those. Woke Up In Hollywood is forged of the best qualities of both whilst neatly side-stepping the cliches and baggage associated with those particular genres. I’m not saying this reminds me of my formative years as a young post-punker but It’s Karma It’s Cool could have easily have found a home there, a time when punk, of all things, had reminded people that music, even pop music, could be anything you want it to be and a wave of visionary pop guitar slingers set about writing a new musical chapter.
Perhaps its time to remind people of that again, that pop doesn’t have to be saccharine, throw away dross, all dance routines and stolen samples. Perhaps It’s Karma It’s Cool could be a rallying point that will help to usher in a new pop age. Wouldn’t that be something?