“The thing about dogs,” vocalist Chris Bug explains on the track “Beg Like A Human,” “is that they don’t know what they’re doing/I want you to beg like a human.” Pretty sinister, right? Well, sinister is an apt description of Pop. 1280′s The Horror, its first full-length for Sacred Bones.
The New York quartet has soundtracked a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world. Most of the songs on the album begin with some distinct sound to let the listener know what’s in store, whether it be a twangy guitar for the desolate and chaotic “West World” or a uniform and focused drum for the angry mob of “Hang ‘Em High.” But no matter which track it is, the nightmarish, grimy guitar sounds are a constant presence. The key here is repetition. Guitarist Ivan Lip creates a wall of scary guitar and then repeats the riff to drive the mood home and envelop the listener. Pop. 1280 has been described as cyberpunk, which is a perfect description of the simple, yet layered, future rock on display here.
Repetition also transitions over to the vocals. Look no further than “Bodies In The Dunes,” an unrelenting and eerie track where Bug’s desensitized chant is as unsettling as the pounding drums in the background. Bug’s vocals perfectly suit the album’s tone because he can easily slip into the role of harsh dictator one moment, while moving effortlessly to leader of the resistance the next.
The Horror is a highly effective album because of how its sense of doom infects you. But it’s also effective because the more you listen to it, the more it’s apparent that this nightmare music is highly catchy and actually kind of danceable. In “Nature Boy,” Bug instructs the masses, “Hips to the right and hips to the left/Right, left, right, left.” And then the guitar gets faster, the vocals speed up, and suddenly it feels like a zombie version of American Bandstand. “Burn The Worm” is equally as infectious. It’s hard not to move in some fashion while listening to the song’s powerful swing.
Don’t be mistaken, though. This isn’t happy stuff. The beats are heavy, and the industrial sounds help evoke this desperate, beyond-repair feeling. Pop. 1280 wants to make you feel hopeless. We can only hope that the band hasn’t seen the future and is using this album as a warning of what’s to come. If so, plan accordingly.