Sometimes admitting you’re wrong is the worst. Having spent every ounce of your being believing in something to the point of blind acquiescence only for it to appear a shell of a lie; that sucks. Sometimes admitting you’re wrong isn’t so bad. Your beliefs may not hold any substance but by discovering your error you become stronger in other ways. More pragmatic, maybe. Or wiser to the actual will of people. I was wrong. Before last week I was deeply skeptical of this idiotic thread of nostalgia running through music. All these bands who look backwards instead of forwards; reforming stale ideas into paper clones. I just believe that we live in a different age than before and should embrace the future gladly without recourse to the nostalgic cushion. This nostalgic cushion is brilliant for knowing where we came from but rubbish at describing what we have become. Then I found Pow Pow and I was wrong. At least slightly wrong. At least willing to make bold exceptions. Regard.
See what I mean about nostalgia? In another life ‘Shadows’ could have been an 80s TV theme. Search your feelings, you know it to be true, we all grew up with The Raccoons. But what sets Pow Pow apart is the dedication to the form; this is an album that mines all the sounds of the early 80s with an absolute, unwavering respect. There is no irony. No cool. This is no a guilty pleasure and there is no fluff. This is an album of clear direction and one that is relentless in making you smile. ‘Night & Day’ has one of the most liberal yet glorious uses of an (for want of a better word) ‘ooh’ synth that I can think of. ‘Sonata’ is as described, a sonata for a modern age replete with a pseudo-cycle of fifths and hints at the relative major; all in synth. ‘Keep Moving’ is louche neon in white flairs grooving to the saw wave. The success of this record stems directly from it’s ability to pastiche the form with such honesty that it actually out 80’d the 80s. Pushing the style beyond it’s eventual conclusion and reminding us of the promise that decade held before cynicism got in the way.
I admit to being wrong. There can be great vitality in nostalgia. There can be life in labored forms. But that said; I firmly believe that to find it nowadays is rare. We shouldn’t try and warm up the past because we don’t share the same experiences as those at the source. The social landscape of the past is not the landscape of now. The musical landscape of the past is equally different. The increasing grasp of the internet has opened history to us but our focus should remain the future. Though if Pow Pow can remind us of where we came from with such impressive skill and such awesome songs; well I can live with that.
I couldn't resist.