Opening with their bizarrely straightforward pop single Underground, Belgian band Das Pop are only just beginning to get a little bit of attention in the UK thanks to a handful of festival appearances. The story goes, though, that they formed in 1994 as school friends and have released two albums. Now they’ve enlisted the helping hands of fellow Belgians, Soulwax, to add their magical producing touch to this 12-track LP.
In recent years Soulwax have gone a bit dance-heavy, but Das Pop and the production on this album are much more similar to the Much Against Everyone’s Advice days, when guitars still played a major role… and still sounded like guitars.
Das Pop aren’t really very much like any-era Soulwax, though. Soulwax were always a bit edgy and smart and did things other bands weren’t brave enough to have tried yet. Das Pop are like a sixties and seventies pop covers band, with just a dash of nineties Britpop in their swagger too. In some ways they’re like The Hoosiers with even less attitude and an even sunnier outlook on life.
The Hoosiers comparison even extends to the balladeering moments on their respective LPs. The cheese-o-meter goes into overdrive on The Last Thing and September, just like on A Sadness Runs Through Him and Clinging On For Life. They’re all the kind of songs that, depending on your perspective, other bands just aren’t brave/stupid enough to do these days.
An immediate observation on seeing Das Pop at Rock Ness this summer was that they’re a little short of original ideas, with the whole thing sounding like a mish mash of riffs and rhythms and cheesy choruses that sound far too familiar. But when Das Pop sound so custom built for mindless entertainment purposes, unless someone finds substantial enough grounds to sue them (they’re probably just the right side of safe) then there’s no harm done. It’s all in the name of fun, eh?
The latter half of the album is more interesting than the first, with more diversity coming out in their sound. It’s all still very melody driven, poppy and safe, but Saturday Night Part Deux sounds, by Das Pop standards, pretty aggressive.
Basically Das Pop are, as the name suggests, a pop band. In fact they are the ultimate, stereotypical pop band, ticking all the boxes, pulling all the poses and executing it all with absolute professionalism. It’s a polished, well-balanced and well-rounded album. But they’re likeable rather than loveable. There’s nothing wrong with it (well, unless you value innovation as an important quality of good pop music) but it doesn’t offer anything exciting enough to justify reaching for the play button again once it’s come to an end.