Gen Pop started in Olympia, Washington in 2016. Four faces in the same mirror all with a different reflection. It’s not high-brow or low-brow but unibrow. Don’t bother making musical comparisons, speak instead in terms of the mood, which, for lack of a better term, may be described as “tense”. We’ve all had the feeling of careening headlong into a wall, eyes wide but seeing nothing, so you’ll know what to expect.
Sometimes the horrible paths we take will lead us to the mundane. It also feels as if we can be led to the same point to an ecstasy of truth and joy. After 2 E.P.’s and a handful of tapes Gen Pop uses all paths to create a unified sound. On PPM66 their first full length, winding bass lines and vulnerable unaffected leads mark late 70s power pop sensibilities with the purity of enthusiasm that has come to be Gen Pop’s calling card.
PPM66 draws from all avenues of sound to create a paced out record that is looking for sonic utopia but sobers into an auditory hallucination. This record focuses on the person. Of course, in the time and space outlined by this recording we find the individual difficult to lock down. Defined by their paranoid tirades and meticulous hygiene, grocery lists and disheveled minds, the characters we meet oscillate between the familiar and the bizarre, often in the span of a single song. With dreamlike insubstantiality, they constantly morph and gyrate, their innumerable facets twinkling in the stark light of the examiner’s scope.
Our take: Gen Pop’s first EP appeared back in 2017, but we’ve had to wait until 2020 for their debut full-length. I’ve been wondering what a Gen Pop full-length would sound like ever since I first heard them. Their 7”s were eclectic, and the beautiful graphic design complimented their balance of tunefulness with an experimental / progressive flair. I’m glad Gen Pop took their time putting together a full-length, because PPM66 brings those elements together as brilliantly as I would have expected. Whenever I listen to PPM66 I think of Wire’s Pink Flag. While they’ve never made it explicit, I’ve always suspected early Wire was a big influence on Gen Pop, and on PPM66 they combine jittery punk like “Hanging Drum” and “Personal Fantasy” with great melodic pop like “Bright Light People” (which has a cool video) and “Concrete” and atmospheric tracks like “Jilted and Blitzed,” achieving a delicate balance very akin to Pink Flag. However, to be a Wire disciple, you can’t imitate Wire; that would miss one of the big takeaways of their aesthetic, that moments of transcendence come from pushing forward, experimenting, and exploring. I often cite Pink Flag as my favorite album of all time, and I value the idea that music should be both intellectually gratifying and viscerally exciting. If you share that belief, you’ll love PPM66 too.