Indie pop band POP ETC have come a long way as a band since their time known as The Morning Benders, who formed and started their following as a college band at U.C. Berkley in the mid-2000s. Their new album, titled Souvenir, is a much more refined, and modern sounding record from the very So-Cal, indie sound their 2008 LP Talking Through Tin Cans had. Cans was well received and caught a lot of attention as an indie album at the time, but like all good artists, their sound has moved forward to new sonic avenues and creative heights.

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Released Friday, the album has been available to the public a few days earlier in Japan on the 27th via Sony, but the band is releasing their fourth LP independently here in North America. Once a four-piece, now a trio, the group’s sound has grown bigger, bigger drum fills, more synths, and bigger choruses. From the first song in “Please, don’t forget me,” they make a statement on looking forward to the future. POP ETC is making sure they’re only looking forward with their style and sound.

It is surprising the band is not receiving any label backing for the release of the album, considering the band’s respectable following in the indie-pop world. The first single off the album, “Bad Break,” has gotten over 300k plays on Spotify. Perhaps it’s the shift the band has taken to a much more pop-heavy sound with this album. You hear that retro 80s synth-pop rhythm section filled with heavy ambience, and huge drums that many synth-pop bands are going to at the moment throughout the album in “Bad Break,” “Running In Circles,” “Backwards World,” and “I’m Only Dreaming.”

Even with the more 80s-pop style set as many song foundations across the LP, singer/guitarist Chris Chu still brings a strong performance with his guitars no longer leading the way, but perfectly balancing the electronic side of their new material. You hear his subtle So-Cal style still present in “I Wanted To Change The World But The World Changed Me” and “What Am I Becoming,” proving their core sound is still that of a guitar band, even with the emergence of more modern musical elements.


Article: Tom Shackleford



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