When two of the boffins who helped create the electronic art-punk sound of the Moonlandingz -- Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer -- ran into Soundcarriers vocalist Leonore Wheatley at an electronics workshop, they decided it would be a cracking idea to start a band. They called the project International Teachers of Pop and the two singles they released in 2018, "Age of the Train" and "On Repeat," proved that it was a fine idea indeed. Both were shimmering songs that were part neo-disco, part synth pop, and part glitter pop; they utilized vintage synths and Wheatley's impressive vocals to craft dance music that is tongue in cheek, but also ready for the dancefloor. It's not too much of a stretch to compare them to a combination of two bands from their hometown of Sheffield -- the Human League and Pulp. Both songs appear on their 2019 self-titled debut album where they are joined by another eight shimmering, perfectly crafted songs that split the difference between Giorgio Moroder and Saint Etienne. Both Flanagan -- who is also part of Eccentronic Research Council -- and Honer -- who was in All Seeing I in the '90s -- have a mastery of vintage electronics that they use to craft tightly arranged songs that burble and motor in just the right ways. Wheatley's vocals are powerful and versatile, she can belt it out like Alison Goldfrapp on bangers like "Time for the Seasons," intone the lyrics icily on the robotic "Love Girl," or inject some tender emotions into the more reserved tracks like "She Walks in Beauty." The latter song is one of the handful that's not built for the dancefloor; the slowly swinging "Oh Yosemite" is another. The trio prove just as adept at these songs as the roof-raising jams like "After Dark" or the cheekily titled "The Ballad of Remedy Nilsson." It's not a surprise that a group with a pedigree as sterling as ITOP's is good; what is a surprise is just how undeniably memorable their debut is. It's modern dance music tinged with nostalgia but brought fully to life by the skills and imagination of the music and the brilliance of Wheatley's voice. It might not quite measure up to the very tall order of being another Dare or Different Class, but the record comes close and that is something the band should be very proud of.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra