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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 194 - 07/03/12

Rough Trade Records / Playground

The Morning Benders put out the most elegant and highly acclaimed chamber pop album Big Echo in 2010, an album co-produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor. Now they've reformed, re-charged, and re-grouped. And they've teamed up with Brian J. Burton, better known as DangerMouse. They've also re-named themselves. They used to be known as The Morning Benders, and now they are POP ETC. This reasons back to when the band started touring Big Echo overseas; in the UK and Europe. When confronted by people about their band name, they didn't know that 'bender' was a slang term for 'homosexual'. The band was a bit shocked when realising their name was the equivalent of 'The Morning Fags' in the USA. So, exit Morning Benders, enter POP ETC.

POP ETC is a shamelessly slick pop album nodding back to the early 80s, even back to the 70s. POP ETC - the threesome count brothers Chris and Jon Chu, plus Julian Harmon - have been collaborating with producer Andrew Dawson (known for his work with Kanye West, Lil' Wayne, Common and Drake) and DangerMouse. The latter has even co-written some (is it more than one?) songs, such as the first single, the indeed catchy "Keep It For Your Own". Yes, it's a bit like Broken Bells (which I didn't like all that much), whom TMB/POP ETC have been touring with. Maybe that's how/when they get to know each other, preparing a collaboration.

If you liked the sober guitar pop of Big Echo, prepare for something completely different. As I said, it's a slick'n'smooth sounding album. Even the band's name is a bit too kitschy and silly. So, even there's some catchy, funny songs in here, I find the album way too styled and stiff. Which is too bad, really.

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