Tim Armstrong may well be the man of the moment. In the last year he has made a definitive piece of modern punk rock in the shape of Rancid's Indestructible, co-written most of the songs on super-cool genre-defying Pink's Try This and also given Copenhagen based label dwellers HorrorPops his much sought after stamp of approval. And with a large input of faith from Mr Armstrong himself, this can't be a bad CD, right?
Correct. In fact this is a thoroughly pleasing record from a band that pride themselves on being more strange than George Bush's political direction. Formed in Denmark, HorrorPops mix together rockabilly, punk, ska and surf to create an eclectic blend of home-grown music that they compare to Blondie, the Ramones and The Cramps. The girl-fronted quartet even have two pole dancers that singer and upright bass player Patricia describes as, "Punked-out Street go-go's" . . . straying away from the band and talking about the actual album is pretty hard when the band in question are as twisted as HorrorPops.
They aren't relying on downright weirdness alone though, as Hell Yeah! sees them unveiling an arsenal of catchy numbers that will easily appeal to a very wide audience.
The bass-slapping intro to Julia sounds like a frantic medley of London Calling and Tainted Love, and the dense and unique noise makes you question why more bands don't have upright bassists. You will certainly recognise a few influences too, such as in Where They Wander; a dark and edgy punk piece that screams Misfits with a chilling echo with its "Whoa!" backing vocals and lyrics: "Calling your name, wanting your brains . . . I'd rather tear my heart out." Ghouls and Psychobitches Outta Hell both provide scratchy vocals and a simple structure, which made them playlist anthems in the Copenhagen club circuit when the band released included them on a seven song press-only record in 1999.
The simplicity of the songs is so seductive; while the lyrics in the verses may be descriptive and semi-meaningful, the choruses are stripped down within an inch of their life (the chorus for Girl In A Cage consists of "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh."), embuing them with a great sense of sing-a-long-ability.
Just as enjoyable is the mash of styles HorrorPops have encompassed in Hell Yeah!: Up-stroke guitar ska, slick rockabilly and uncomplicated punk are brought together with the soundtrack of a trashy 1950s sci-fi B-movie. Just when you thought it couldn't get much more interesting, the last number is an instrumental surf song, complete with Pulp Fiction style bass line.
Twisted, bizarre and downright weird, HorrorPops have produced an excellent debut that should make some people sit up and notice. Hellcat has struck gold with this quirky quartet . . . and their "punked-out" go-go dancers.
:: Graham Drummond