Sophomore slump, la de fucking da. We get it. The first album ruled, and now you’re out of ideas, out of money, and the record labels crawled up your arsehole. Instead of taking some time, and actually making something worth listening to, you’ve pumped out a token ‘radio hit’, and built up 11 songs of filler and utter shit. It’s a tale as old as time itself.
Nah, Popstrangers were always going to be better than that. There will be no random radio junkie bullshit on this second outing. And it certainly can only be described as an outing. The songs on here stretch far and wide, a fucking pasture of guitar reverb and jittery drumming. There is still the same sonic overload that they showcased so well on their debut record, but now it’s tighter, and more focused, less fucking noodling.
Now, when Popstrangers are playing, everything has a purpose, and they’re definitely going somewhere. Of course, there’s always going to be an exception, and things can become mildly placid (‘Her’), but the overarching thesis is that ‘Fortuna’ is strong, and confident.
That’s right, I’m forming a thesis around ‘Fortuna’. A goddamn thesis. Fuck, what has university done to me? Anyway, the point remains that when Popstrangers pull their guns out, and drop guitar bombs, they can’t help but achieve the kind of lossless devoted attention the Reid brothers loved. Lead single ‘Country Kills’ is a perfect example-the swirl of Popstrangers psychedelic melts into crashing, rough choruses that could muster a resonance with a festival crowd. Furthermore, ‘Tonight’ goes for the jugular, Flying Nun jangle evaporating into damn guttural guitar squallor. Shit, ‘Right Babies’ doesn’t even fuck around with easing in the listener, and goes hard out with a spine-snapping, eight-legged guitar riff.
And even though I’m obviously a frother over Popstranger’s more bolstered stuff on this album, the quieter stuff is pretty amazing too. Opener ‘Sandstorm’ hits all the right notes on its way to a pretty orgasmic finish, and the closer of ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ could be the perfect track to forlornly gaze after unrequited love to aka every single romantic pursuit I’ve ever experienced.
Overall, ‘Fortuna’ shows that Popstrangers have grown anything but shy. They’re experiencing with some loud chorus and barrel-chested guitars, whilst losing none of the homely, endearing factors from their first album. And there’s certainly more than enough shoegaze jaw-droppers on here to make the average Slowdive fan gasp in amazement. Good stuff, Popstrangers, come over the pond whenever you feel like, and dash my brains out with you tunes.