Popguns

Pop Fiction

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The Popguns' first album after 20 years away from the recording studio shows no signs of rust; if anything, Pop Fiction sounds like it could have been released during the band's heyday in the early '90s and been considered another in a series of great noisy, jangly indie pop gems. Featuring the powerfully simple vocals of Wendy Pickles, some loud guitars, lots of melancholy, and hooks sharp enough to cut through the years, the album is grown folks' indie pop of the highest caliber. Produced with care by the bandmembers themselves, the album sounds airlifted out of the past but not stuck in it, despite referencing one of their early classics, "Waiting for the Winter," on "Still Waiting for the Winter." Instead, that less than subtle nod to their past lets the listener know that this isn't a band of kids hijacking, then spitting out, some nostalgic brew of jangling noise pop. This is a band who lived through the glory years and is back to recapture its position as one of the best. Along with that song, the Popguns dole out plenty more reasons why they deserve to be back making albums and not just treading the boards at the occasional festival. Lead single "Lovejunky" is a wonderful reminder of why the band was so special, sounding like a distaff Wedding Present without the grimacing but with all the emotion and bass and guitar firepower. It fits perfectly into an album of catchy upbeat tunes ("Something Going On," "If You Ever Change Your Mind"), sweetly swaying midtempo ones ("City Lights," "I'll See You Later"), and a couple tender ballads ("Out of Sight," "Still Waiting for the Winter") that rate with the best of their early work, all adding up to a truly impressive comeback. Say what you will about the steady stream of bands in the 2010s who couldn't wait to dust off their instruments, rally the old gang, and venture back into the music game; if they all did it with the style and skill the Popguns exhibit on Pop Fiction, those people who find fault with said bands would have a whole lot less to complain about.

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