Man, I always have a soft spot for Californian pop/punk, especially when it’s a young band coming on like the 90’s never ended. And that’s where I introduce you to The Bombpops. Founded in 2007 by dual singer/guitarists Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam, the 4 piece band take the title of their sophomore album ‘Death In Venice Beach’ from Thomas Mann’s celebrated novella about the price of artistic life.
The follow up to 2017’s ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ it sees the band explore dark themes of alcohol addiction, health problems, toxic relationships and suicide all wrapped up in high energy punk pop.
But the dark lyrical themes are certainly not the first thing that hits you about The Bombpops. The SoCal sound that inspires the band is prevalent throughout, you could say ‘Death In Venice Beach’ sounds like the lost 90’s soundtrack you need to fill the hole between ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Josie and the Pussycats’.
Take latest single ‘Double Arrows Down’. Lyrically inspired by Poli Van Dam’s diabetes seizure and subsequent dice with death, it’s actually a euphoric blast of dual vocal melody and overdriven guitars, with a sugar-buzz pop melody that will inject sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Sweet vocal melodies The Dollyrots would die for and the sort of catchy choruses Letters To Cleo perfected in their prime.
And so it continues for 30 minutes or so. 12 short, sharp, shocks of punk pop that do not overstay their welcome. Songs that would’ve bombarded the airwaves back in the day and singles that would’ve been vying for attention with the likes of Bowling For Soup and Sum 41 on your TV screens.
‘Dearly Departed’ name-checks doomed celebrity couples over high energy pop/punk. Sid & Nancy rub shoulders with JFK & Monroe as Jen & Poli deliver pitch perfect vocal harmonies and dirty guitars in unison. A tight rhythm section and a crisp production courtesy of (among others) NOFX’s Fat Mike only adds to the high quality.
With the likes of ‘Sad To Me’ and ‘Zero Remorse’ they have a knack of delivering a verse that create momentum and builds to what you just know is going to be an anthemic, killer chorus that will stay in your brain long after the song has ended. The girls’ vocals work well together and it is that, along with the top notch songwriting, which lifts this album high above the current competition.
The bouncy bass intro and the offset guitar riff in ‘Notre Dame’ will bring to mind The Offspring, ‘In The Doghouse’ comes on like The Creepshow at their most commercial and the raw tale of isolation and heartbreak that is ’13 Stories Down’ sounds like a female-fronted NOFX. Elsewhere you’ll swear you’ve heard the likes of ‘Radio Silence’ and ‘House On Fire’ before. And that my friends, is the knack of a catchy melody put to very good use.
There are lots of comparisons that can be made to lots of cool bands when listening to ‘Death In Venice Beach’ and that’s not a bad thing. The Bombpops wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and have their own imitable style and their own way of exorcising their own personal demons with a set of strong, bouncy tunes.
To be honest, you could imagine any of the 12 songs on offer to be featured on MTV, with the band playing next to a swimming pool or a frat house in California, surrounded by teens with nothing more on their mind than pulling the hottest cheerleader and downing a four pack. And while in these troubled times those sort of antics may seem as distant a memory as the 90’s actually are, it’s still the great escape some of us need right now.
Buy ‘Death In Venice Beach’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes