FAME Review: The Pop Group - Citizen Zombie
The Pop Group - Citizen Zombie

Citizen Zombie

The Pop Group

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

What's 35 years between friends, hm? It's been that long between The Pop Group's last, We are Time, and this one, Citizen Zombie, and the foursome has lost nothing in the chronosymplastic infundibulum that normally warps all and sundry out of time and place, producing horrors and monstrosities like capitalism. Well, how could they possibly be in arrears anyway? The anarchic bastards were way ahead of their time well before hitting the scene, and atavistic Republican (read: business) madnesses have only infantilized and reverted each and every one of us, save for these chaoticists and a few others, so they're still beyond the horizon, we the poor afflicted who must catch up, grabbing a lungful of lifegiving truth and madness if we're to retain soul and eros…and if we're lucky.

Citizen Zombie is highly psychedelic, and the retrenchment in it kinda reminds me of what happened when Mike Watt joined the Stooges in their regrouping: everyone had progressed and sharpened up, so much so that 'more of the same' became 'MUCH more of the same and with hellish goddamned intensity', the Pop boys tossing The Red Krayola and Fantomas in amid a crazed and burnished quilt of infinite influences. The spooky aridity of some of the songs are mindful of what Marilyn Manson didn't do because he and his posse were so preoccupied otherwise. The resistance and hatred of fascism, though, is fully illuminated in both groups, and Mark Stewart 'n da boyz in Pop take it all back through a wringer now barbed and acidic, The Immaculate Deception particularly searing (I in fact went to Killing Miranda's disc and blasted Conspiracy Theory in the living room before I wended thru the rest of Citizen).

Then there's the Flaming Lips-y follower, S.O.P.H.I.A., a caper that imports David Thomas and Pere Ubu (not literally, y'all) with a breezy almost calypso ambience. Very little, if anything, is ever sacred to these bad-ass yobs, but then, zen-like, everything is, and thus we have the explanation as to how all these weirdnesses, skewed time signatures, and loony-bin yodelling could possibly cohere so magnificently, reverse-Advil for those sick to death of reality, a good bourbon whiskey laced with ketamine and ayahuasca.

There are also elements of Amon Duul, Hawkwind (catch the Poppers' Nations for the political side of Sonic Attack), Can, and many other prog ensembles, as well as Jon Spencer and later noisemongers, but the final result is completely distinctive. I'm not 80s spawn, having come well before (first concert seen? Hendrix; figure it out from there), and I missed a lot of what was going down in the post-70s era, being pre-occupied with Chomsky and matters political by then, as was Maximim Rock 'n Roll, Punk Planet, and other venues, but thank God a coupla cool-ass PR guys turned me onto two of the all-time coolest bands, The Replacements and The Pop Group, 'cause it's this kind of art that makes me start to slough the dread I feel as I watch the world deliquesce into astinking pool of toxic neoplasma. Maybe, just maybe, we stand a chance if we remember that, without art, life is a serious mistake.

Track List:

  • Citizen Zombie
  • Mad Truth
  • Nowhere Girl
  • Shadow Girl
  • The Immaculate Deception
  • S.O.P.H.I.A.
  • Nations
  • Box 9
  • Nations
  • St. Outrageous
  • Age of Miracles
  • Echelon
No writing credits given (promo copy)
but I know Mark Stewart penned all the lyrics.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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