By Paul Blawat
Pop. 1280's The Horror is a masterpiece of grimy, noise-addled punk. Like Jim Thompson’s novel that is the bands’ namesake, The Horror blisters with an arid desert heat, evil psychedelic reverb, and an unmistakable surrealistic bleakness felt throughout the LP.
The opening track, “Burn the Worm”, sets a torrid pace. Pop. 1280 offer up some the Beguiled* level madness and horrific despair, and vocals that make the back of yer neck sweat (kinda Mark Arm-ish). When you swish around the sounds of The Horror on your palate, you get this…
"New Electronix"—some classic Amrep-inspired madness; music that is violent mentally, not physically (think early Hammerhead, with a dash of Chrome Cranks for general creepiness). "Nature Boy"—a rumbling, swamped-out, reverb-infested trip through a demented soul’s thoughts.** "Bodies in the Dunes"—the most Mudhoney fruit nodes hit the palate on this one. Maybe even more toward Green River fuzz out. Not for the faint of heart. I think the taste of all this has gone bad. Real bad. ”Cyclotron”—this is mind-damaged. Heavy levels of mentally ill jazz. It’s really fantastic if you love this genre of music. ”Hang ‘em High”—most of the songs on The Horror must have been in the red when they were mixed; more apparent on this track. But the band never ventures too far beyond, just staying clear of the highest peak of madness. “Beg Like a Human”—the most Alice Cooper-inspired venture on the LP. It’s really haunting. Haunting in that way that the baby crying in “Dead Babies" leaves that nervous sweat and baaaaaad feeling creeping down your spine.
I hate to gush, but if you enjoy this style of music (“music for the affected”?) then Pop. 1280 are for you. Has Sacred Bones Records ever led you astray before. That’s what I thought. Get the LP here, now.
*The Beguiled, the Necessary Evils, James Arthur’s Manhunt, and Haunted George are all connected by weirdness and a succinct bloodline that existed in the 1990s to present. They were (and are) carrying the torch of 80s creeps Kim Salmon (Scientists) and early Alice Cooper weirdness. If anyone were really infected by alien DNA (à la X-Files), I’d have my money on any or all of these freaks.
**Maybe got a little carried away there. But hey, I just closed my eyes and that was there.