Minny Pops

Drastic Measures, Drastic Movement

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Minny Pops' first full-length is one of those enjoyable albums that is at once of its time and just slightly out of it, quirky without being a dull attempt at yuks. Still, starting an album with what sounds like a whirring motorcycle engine produced by a malfunctioning synth -- and calling the effort "Springtime I" -- at the least shows a sense of humor. Unlike the more immediately focused and hooky side of synth/rock robot moves -- think, say, Devo circa "Whip It" -- Minny Pops here slot into more of an early Human League/Cabaret Voltaire approach of minimal melodies and murky, crumbling noises shot through with murmuring keyboards. Alternating between almost fragmentary songs like "New Muzak" and "Hologram" -- many never getting beyond two minutes -- and a few longer pieces enhancing the sense of collage on the album, where elements are put together in slightly different ways every time. Even the most straightforward songs like "Monica," with its choppy guitar and tag line of "Living in Bolivia isn't so pretty" aren't mainstream fare. Vocalist Wally Van Middendorp's singing is certainly Phil Oakey-like, in the sense of being clipped and straightforward speaking more than anything else, as compared to, say, Kraftwerk's elegant blend of melody and dryness in their vocals. He avoids declaiming, though, sounding more like a bemused voice of sanity in the middle of swirling up-and-down arrangements such as "Dolphin's Spurt," and at other times sounding a bit more random amid equally random music. The arrhythmic overlay of sounds on "Motor City" gives him the chance to let loose just a bit without ranting away. LTM's re-release, once again in keeping with the label's general practice, adds bonus tracks in two forms -- the inclusion of an earlier EP, "Kojak," plus a five-song video section from a November 1979 performance in Amsterdam.

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