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Pope - Sports

  by Paul Raven

published: 6 / 9 / 2007

Pope - Sports
Label: Wantage USA
Format: CD


Hyper-sounding avant-garde rock from American band the Pope which stretches the line between genius and insanity to breaking-point

You'd not be considered crazy to assume that a band who'd choose as blasphemous a name as tThe Pope (singular – which is very very rude, because that chap in the Vatican is supposed to be the only one) are probably on a mission to overturn expectations and piss in the eye of popular culture. In fact, you'd be entirely correct in that assumption. Now, you'll need to bear with me here, because this isn't an easy album to explain. To be honest, the only real way to make you understand what it sounds like would be to make you listen to it, but I'll do my best. Let's see ... take some frantic drumming that flip-flops between climactic metal rhythms and the insane blatter of noise-punk, played by someone who's had far too much caffeine than can possibly be healthy for them. Now add bass and guitar tones that are saturated and distorted way beyond the customary levels, so loud and dense that they seem to be trying to crawl out of your speakers, wrap around your ankles and throw you to the floor before sinking their fangs into your neck. The riffs owe something to metal, but also to the body-bludgeoning intensity of the heavier forms of dance music – remember the bass-lines that featured so heavily in the early Chemical Brothers material? Like that, but with added ketamine. And chainsaws. Throw in some incidental passages of weird sampled percussion that bring to mind the chase scenes from Akira watched under the influence of heavy sedation, and guitar textures shattered and looped and reversed. Now all you need are some vocals. Shouting and rapid ranting through distorted microphones set way back in the mix are the order of the day, a rapid-fire attack of half-heard and barely comprehensible mania. I'd love to be able to explain what they're about, but I have to confess that I can't really make it out. To go by the album title (and that of the songs themselves), it's all themed around sports – which explains the occasional interspersed samples of crowd atmospheres from local sporting events. Whether this is ironic, celebratory or caustic, I wouldn't like to assume. If you were to tell me it was all three, I'd be willing to believe you. Reading that through, you've probably gathered that the Pope are not an easy-listening experience. I'd be doing you (and the band) a disservice if I tried to claim that they're the sort of thing that everyone is going to be able to enjoy. I'd also be lying. This is the sort of stuff that is only going to be appreciated by the listener with a taste for the bizarre, the intense and the extreme. Personally, I love it – the closest comparison I could draw would be to insane sound smorgasbord delivered by Melt Banana, only without the elements of twee Japanese cuteness. I wish I could recommend this album to everyone, but I've been into fringe music genres for long enough to know that's a lost cause. So I'll simply say that the Pope are a strong brew that will only be appreciated by listeners with a cast-iron stomach and a taste for utter inebriation. The line between genius and insanity has always been thin; on Sports, you can hear it stretched to breaking-point, and then twanged vigorously for half an hour. Enter at your own risk, and wear a hard hat.

Track Listing:-
1 Triumph Of The Will
2 Great Leap Forward
3 Ricksha Race Through Outerspace
4 Nudity In Sports
5 I Want A New Sport
6 Hot Dog Eater
7 Gymnopaedia
8 Battledore And Shuttlecock
9 The Power Of Sports
10 Chocolate Babies
11 White People
12 Touchdown Johnny
13 Pancakes, Hamburgers
14 The Power And The Glory Of The Sports
15 Untitled
16 Untitled
17 Untitled

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