Born and bred in Perth, this Glasgow-based garage rock trio may be Poor Things by name but, if their eponymous debut LP is anything to go by, their music is rich in summery surf pop. Thanks to the band’s knack for penning some excellent songs (well, they have been playing together for over ten years now) one of the biggest, brightest and well-considered Scottish records of Summer 2014 has arrived right on time.
The album was recorded by none other than Matt Scott, whom you may recall as the ex-bassist of fellow Glasgow fuzz pop noise makers, PAWS, and you can definitely hear some similarities. Both create fantastic 2-3 minute gems – songs that may be short and sweet but make a terrific impact.
However, Poor Things are perhaps slightly more of a ‘glass half full’ kind of band, with brighter melodies and a more coherent delivery. The hooks, despite by and large drowning in a dark sea of reverb and distortion like their Morrissey bashing counterparts, shine through the grit brilliantly and are delightfully memorable. The whole recording process right through to mastering has been done to an immaculate standard, such that everything is equally represented, guitar and vocals don’t always take unnecessary priority, making for a really interesting listen.
With its Beach Boys-style ‘ooh’s and slightly-out-of-the-blue synth and piano tangent, ‘For Edwin Morgan’ is a great choice of opener, reeling in listeners with the band’s penchant for bright, poppy hooks. Nostalgic number ‘Halcyon Days!’ reflects on the highs and lows of growing up, a theme which is complemented by an unrelenting, raw delivery by the Glasgow upstarts. Likewise ‘Life One Part Two’ has a similar approach, packing a punch, albeit at a slower pace.
The first single released from the record was ‘1998’ and with its gorgeous ringing riffs, it’s no wonder. You can almost feel the Summer breeze as the sound fills your ears. However, it’s ‘Yes’ which stands out for this reviewer. Hazy harmonising vocals are held right back, allowing the relentless trio of guitar/bass/drums to truly shine.
But forget about all that fuzzed up nonsense for a minute. Let’s consider Poor Things’ equal talent for writing great little acoustic ditties. Take ‘Freezing’ for example. At 1:14, it’s the shortest track on the album, yet with its bittersweet melodies and lovely, poetic lyrics, it definitely leaves an impression, whilst also serving as a little break in the middle of the record.
Songs like ‘Drunk Man Considers the Royal Wedding at Kelvingrove Park’ and ‘Anaconda Man’ are slow burners, with a bit of a 90s breezy vibe to them. Not unsurprisingly, the former is even a little reminiscent of Britpop, whilst the latter feels more American in nature.
‘New Best Friends’ and ‘Work’ bring things back to life with pop hooks galore. Whilst ‘New Best Friends’ see the band deliver clear, crisp vocals, nicely layered during the choruses, those heavier PAWS similarities creep back in a little on ‘Work’. They’re slightly repetitive but, in a way, that’s what makes them so damn infectious.
The album is brought to an end with ‘Master of Arts’, which, compared to the rest, actually comes across as a bit of an anti-climax at first, with its luke warm delivery and a breakdown which seems to drag on a little. However, when that fuzzed up outro kicks in, all faith in the track is restored and it seems an incredibly fitting end to a record bursting with, not just magnificently distorted noise, but energy, passion, positivity, creativity and three guys’ unrelenting love for crafting some great pop gems.
So if you’re on the lookout for something to soundtrack your Summer, look no further than ‘Poor Things’.