THE POP GROUP – Y (1979)

Review by: Victor Guimarães
Album assigned by: Jonathan Moss

Despite loving arty, experimental, psychedelic music, I never had a good relationship with post-punk. It’s complicated. It’s a genre that has everything I rationally like in music, and I’m still not a big-time fan. Do you remember that amazing girl (or guy) you met that time? That one, yeah, who was stunning, charming, brilliant, funny and even had the same habits and hobbies as you… but you two just couldn’t get along. Yeah, it’s a bit sad. It’s complicated. I know I just illustrated it with your kind of everyday lame comparison, but it illustrates well my relationship with the movement. With The Pop Group, one of the great early vanguardists within the genre, it wouldn’t be that different. 

After lots of ideas, experimentation and recording a single, on a nice day in 1979, there came Y, The Pop Group’s debut album. Listening to it is like having a good definition of post-punk: no clear definition, no rules. It’s got a rock approach made clear by some bass and drums lines and some guitar riffs, but there are too many elements of funk, electronic music and psychedelia, with spaces for folkier stuff, piano plays, changes in tempo and different ways of singing within the album or even in the same song. With that big primordial musical soup, it’s a bit hard for one to consider it a “true”, standard rock-n-roll album. But, hey! Who said this lack of rules is a downside? No one! It is exactly this adventurous way of making music what made post-punk pass the test of time with flying colors and The Pop Group one of the laureates of that class.

Well, to make it brief: regardless of my relationship with the genre, Y is a great album. It’s well done, it’s well thought, it’s creative, it’s not boring, it’s definitely not cliché. It may be a little repetitive sometimes. Or even too arty, too noisy and too difficult to digest for the untrained ear. But don’t let it intimidate you: it’s worth your time. Maybe that girl (or guy) was for you and not for me.