Album review: Broods – Don’t Feed the Pop Monster

John Preston

John Preston

South London based music obsessive with strong opinions about most things. Doubts Madonna has another good record in her but would love more than anything to be proved wrong.
John Preston

Don’t Feed the Pop Monster is the somewhat ironic title for the sister-brother duo’s third album. Enjoying considerable commercial success in their native New Zealand as well as Australia, Broods have made the potentially risky decision of tweaking their formula with maybe a view to securing a wider global reach.

Their predominantly electronic dance-pop has occasionally shown flashes of a darker, more tribal techno edge but generally Broods have sounded a lot like other artists who have had radio and steaming success in the last five years or so.

Dropped from their label a couple of years back, the pair have allowed themselves time to reset and gravitate back towards making music that they enjoy without the pressure of following one hit after another.

Turns out this is still pop music but the diversity of the band’s sound has expanded considerably with the focus put on crafting catchy songs that rely more on a masterfully constructed chorus than a tired, but still being turned out, tropical house drop or high-budget trap makeover.

The band are in a reflective and sombre mood often, tackles mental health issues and ‘Falling Apart’ speaks for itself. A sly wink is obvious in tracks like ‘Everything Goes (Wow)’ and ‘Sucker’, though, adding light to the dark.

Electro-dance is still to be found here but Broods have also incorporated more guitars and an assured indie rock attitude (‘Dust’) along with Italo House piano riffs (‘Peach’) and melancholic micro-beat synth pop (‘Why Do You Believe Me’).

The surprise is how cohesive this hodge-podge of styles ends up sounding across almost the entirety of Don’t Feed the Pop Monster’s 12 tracks.

Only the possessed garage-band rock of ‘Old Dog’ feels as though it’s gate crashed the party, sounding a lot like a B52’s track from the mid-eighties it’s none-the-less exhilarating and well written riot.

Georgia Nott is a charismatic and appealing vocalist. Her voice can change from smoky and aloof to vulnerable and confiding from one line to the next and is placed gratefully high in the mix throughout.

On a track like the muscular and artfully wordy ‘Hospitalised’, she sounds effortlessly in control whilst imagining being out of control entirely. Her ability to communicate this juxtaposition is a masterclass in astute, female pop performance.

When her brother replaces her then interest wanes somewhat – he neither posses her individuality or pop awareness. Thankfully, though, he stays mainly outside of the vocal booth.

There is a sense of nostalgia that informs the overall mood of Don’t Feed the Pop Monster. Whilst there is nothing here that is either overtly or cynically retro, this is a record that chases few current pop trends and is not immediately recognisable as Broods.

Instead, the decision to make a record where the dominant theme is that of quality song-writing and personality-driven performances feels somewhat out of fashion and reminiscent more of bands such as Blondie and previous collaborator Lorde.

Don’t Feed the Pop Monster is Broods’ most classically pop album so far and also their best. If it isn’t a hit then don’t blame them and instead look take a harder look at the current state of pop culture as it continues to merrily eat itself.

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