Part of the charm of the second compilation from Dublin-based collective Popical Island is that they represent a throwback to a time when people queued up for records on the day of release, mixtapes were a welcome gift from fellow musos and Seattle, Washington, was the unlikely capital of rock music. In the wake of the synth- pop revival that has revitalized everything that was good – and bad – about the ’80s, Popical Island # 2 throws a knowing glance towards the ’90s; a time when a new alternative rock album that would define the decade seemed to come along at least once a year.
Diversity and range, within the pop form, is key to Popical Island’s latest release. While all the artists seem to share common ground, their leanings become more evident after repeated listens. Michael Knight’s quirky piano song, ‘Hang On, I Need To Count the Stops’ is clearly from the Ben Folds songbook, the chiming 12 strings that adorn Goodly Thousands’ ‘Kiss Me Upside Down’ recall I.R.S. era R.E.M., while ‘Candle’ by Squarehead should keep fans of The Shins happy. Three-minute pop nuggets aside, there are also left turns, such as Tieranniesaur’s ‘Here Be Monsters’, which is possibly the only track that isn’t defined by fuzzy guitars but by a tight, stomping drums and bass with sparse keys and vocals. In contrast again, Grand Pocket Orchestra and Johnny Fun & The Hesitations’ contributions owe their sound and feel to the many records that defined the Montreal music scene of recent years.
While many of the contributions here aren’t breaking any new ground, have little to say and, at times, are a too indebted their influences, there’s plenty here to enjoy and the mere nostalgia trip, alone, is worth the price of admission.