Monday, 20 April 2015

Album Review: To The Moon by Popes Of Chillitown


At the end of last year I had the pleasure of seeing London based ska punk band the Popes Of Chillitown support The JB Conspiracy at the Barfly in Camden (review here) and was completely blown away by their performance. Next month they are releasing their second album To The Moon, I very excitedly checked it out.

To The Moon begins with a song named Vamos a la Luna. Starting out with with some horn riffs and some simple ska guitar the song starts slowly, gradually being joined by bass and drums along with lead singer Matt's unmistakable vocal to create a smooth reggae vibe. Then the tempo picks up and the ska party explodes into life. I really love Matt's vocal style, it reminds me of a cross between Jake from Capdown and Jak from ClayPigeon. The next song Mummy's Busy continues down the same ska punk party path. Matt's vocal is during the verse is delivered in a fast paced rap style and really carries the tempo of the song. OPOOM switches between dub & ska and takes the listener on bit of a ride with highs and lows. There is a great sing along section towards the end of the song, repeating the phrase “what a waste of time and energy” over and over again I can imagine it going down a storm at a gig. This all builds up to one last high tempo ska section that'll get everyone going crazy. The fourth song Impatient begins with just vocals and ska guitar, it really grabs your attention from the very start. The song feels like it is a collection of different parts, with differences in tempos and melodies throughout the track that keep it really interesting.

Voluntary Execution is a bouncy dance number. The bass guitar is allowed to shine during the verse, creating a perfect back beat whilst the vocals talk about not letting go and holding back when you want to let all the frustrations you have in the world escape you. Musically the song is much more restrained than previous songs on the album, really allowing the words to stand out. Speaking of standing out, Too Much is definitely a stand out on an album that's turning out to be great. After it's reggae beginning it launches into life, the energy is relentless with the horns in particular shining through. This is another song where you can easily see yourself going mad for at a Popes gig. Otherside starts out with an acoustic guitar before the full band kick in. I love the use of the acoustic guitar, it's something not many ska bands implement and would have liked to see the Popes use it more prominently in their sound. This is one of my favourite songs on To The Moon and is about living a completely different life to someone that you care about and feeling like you are growing apart. 14 Times is another very strong song. It is played with a nice mid tempo reggae beat with Matt's bouncing vocals carrying the melody. Another song that will get you skanking wherever you may be listening to it.


The ninth track Wisdom Teeth is without a doubt my favourite on To The Moon. It has everything that I want in a ska punk song. Beginning with some horns that make you believe that the song is heading towards something big before a surprise “na na na na na na” and the song begins with the brass section taking the lead. Matt's vocals are delivered and a fast pace as he sings about learning from mistakes. It's not all faced paced ska fun though, there are some break downs that give you a chance to reflect on the song before the tempo is dragged back up with more vocals. If you hear this and don't feel the need to dance, quite frankly, you're dead inside. For the penultimate song Hey You the Popes Of Chillitown reign things back in. The music is sharp and full of intent. On first listen I questioned why would they place a track like this after such a party track like Wisdom Teeth. I think this is what the Popes Of Chillitown are all about though, not doing what is expected of them. I love them for that. The song Every Day Completes the album collects together everything the Popes have to offer and blends it all together to create an interesting sound. The vocals feel more emotional than they have on the record leading me to think that this is a more personal song. The combination of all the styles makes this a great song to finish off a brilliant album.

To The Moon is a fantastic second album, it will have you dancing from beginning to end and there isn't a single track that feels like filler. I love the production on it, there is a rawness that makes you feel like at your a live show but still manages to sound crisp and clear. The Popes Of Chillitown have put out one of the best ska records of the year and should be the soundtrack to your summer. 




Now listening to Ashley by Green Day