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Posted on July 25th, 2012 (11:52 am) by Emily Butler

This, the third studio album from Pop Etc, formerly The Morning Benders, is pretty much the epitome of popular music. At best, the group sounds a little like Passion Pit. At worst, they are reminiscent of most '90s boy bands, infused with a little of the modern indie keyboard sound. I can see why many people will probably enjoy this album from beginning to end; each song is consistently catchy, energetic, and upbeat even when the content of the lyrics is sad. Pop Etc, and this album, are certainly on par with any other pop group out there at this time. Yet they aren't anything special, either. Personally, I might pause to listen to them on the radio, but that's the extent of my enjoyment of this album.

Pop Etc's songs on this self-titled album are the kind sounding as if you've heard them before, even when you haven't. This familiarity can lead to boredom. Strangely enough, the choruses tend to be the worst parts of the songs because they are the least innovative. Tracks like, "Keep it For Your Own" and "Live it Up" start with promising backbeats and keyboard melodies, but I'm disappointed by the time the chorus comes in. Suddenly all nuances of originality are stripped away in favor of a simple, heavy beat. In spite of this, "Keep it For Your Own" is worth listening to. On this track, the trio plays around a little with acoustic instrumentation, and the pleasant vocals aren't masked or distorted by autotune. The group does provide a decent amount of variation across the entire album, in terms of pacing. They slow things down with tracks like, "Why'd You Do It," without parting with their usual catchy, heavy chorus. This song has one of the better choruses on the album. With it the group mixes up the form of their lyrics, adding to the rhythmic emphasis with a little internal rhyme in the phrase: "Why'd you do it honey? / I ain't got no money anyway." As a music lover who values poetic lyrics or else none at all, this album is less than inspiring. The group's rhymes are either so simple that they're predictable or so unexpected that they feel forced. Pop Etc uses at least two phrases that we've all heard verbatim in other songs, like the lines "rock your body" and "I wanna be your man." While I'm sure this was not an intentional copying, this is a testament to the band's tendency towards the familiar.

I recognize that, as familiar as they sometimes sound, pop songs are not easy to write. And in our modern musical culture so often involving single release tracks, I can certainly appreciate the fact this album was composed and organized with a particular progression of experience in mind. It starts out slow yet energetic, and keeps the listener on their toes with variations in dynamics and pacing throughout. Moreover, the last song is a perfect wrap-up track, ending strong and incorporating elements of the entire album, even referencing a line from "Live it Up" at an unexpected time. Pop Etc has clearly put a lot of work into a layered, successful pop album which a lot of people will love and enjoy. But for those of you who are adverse to autotuned lyrics and hand-clapping choruses, this album may make you feel like you're at a high school dance.

Track List:
1. New Life
2. Back to Your Heart
3. Halfway to Heaven
4. Keep it For Your Own
5. Live it Up
6. Everything is Gone
7. R.Y.B.
8. Whyd You Do it Honey
9. I Wanna Be Your Man
10. C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E
11. Yoyo

Pop Etc
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

58 / 100
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