Album Review: Popstrangers – Fortuna

version2New Zealand band Popstrangers’ new album, Fortuna, the band’s sophomore follow up to Antipodes is out now on Carpark Records. Because of or despite a certain degree of chaos that can be found within these tracks, which were recorded hastily in under a week, the album retains an edgy cohesiveness in its disarray.

The chorus of standout track “Country Kills,” spews an angst-filled energy that the forefathers of grunge rock would respect as Joel Flyger sings, “Oh my country will kill me now, whatever.” In a schizophrenic fashion, the disposition of the tracks change abruptly. The ironically named song, “Don’t Be Afraid queues up like a scene from a scary movie. The opening riff is discordant and echoed with light audio feedback, like the sound of skipping vinyl. Initially, this tune may trigger the hair on the back of your neck to prickle, but lighter chords melt in quickly. It goes without saying, that this track doesn’t have the catchy rhythm and harmonies of a pop song, but you’ll find yourself dimming the lights and wanting to listen to it over and over again, craving the haunting distortion of hazy vocals.

Melodies, noises, and vocals drift out of range as quickly as they’re introduced throughout this capricious album. There’s an intimidation to the majority of the songs without being overly boisterousness. Influences of 80’s punk rock from Sonic Youth and Joy Division are imbedded deeply throughout each track, which lend a hand to the heavy sound. However, before listening to even one song, the album embraces the music and style of the 80’s. An androgynous human with protruding cheek bones and sporting a feathered blonde mullet of bleached perfection with upswept and angled brows graces the album cover, recalling the infamous Labyrinth David Bowie motif. Conceivably, this may not scream Goblin King to everyone, but in the very least it does draw from an 80’s creativity outlet.

Flyger was quoted previously during an interview for their debut album release, Antipodes saying, “Maybe [Popstrangers is] too young to have a certain style or a sound. It’s fun to keep exploring.” Perhaps unintentional, but nevertheless this attitude ties in directly with their current titled project. Fortuna is the Roman goddess of fate, representing the unpredictability and irregularities of life. As the trio continues to discover the splitting and converging avenues of their musical talents, here’s hoping all roads lead to success for Popstrangers.

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