Popes Of Chillitown – ‘To The Moon’

Popes Of Chillitown – ‘To The Moon’

The 6-piece ska/dub/punk band from London who have been banging around for a little while now, so hopefully most will show their acknowledgment of the grooving, skanking juggernaut” by now. But for the few that are new yet to succumb to the musical charms of Popes Of Chillitown here’s a brief recap. The band existed in a few different lineups before settling on the current gang: Matt Conner (vox/guitar), Arvin Bancil (bass), Jack Ashley (drums/vox), Tom Penn (guitar/vox), Micah Rose-Trespeuch (saxophone) and Ross Moore (trombone). But a straight-up ska-punk band they are not – their range of “experience and tastes make an intoxicating cauldron of styles”, deftly mashing the energy of upbeat ska, the more directness of punk, 2-tone and drum & bass with the groove of reggae and dub, adding in the lyrical skill of hip hop and finishing it all off with a generous helping of catchy melodies and hooks. The result has been likened to artists such as King Prawn, Capdown, The Beat, The Police, Jamie T and The Skints.

‘To The Moon’ follows 2013’s noteworthy debut album ‘A Word To The Wise’ and in some respects is a continuation, only a little more brighter, musical and dexterous. This perhaps may be down to recent events.” After a couple of key members dropped out of the band in 2013 due to other commitments. What had seemed like a blow turned out to be a blessing, leaving the band with a more focused mindset and a tighter foundation for their new material no argument from me here, first listen to ‘To The Moon’ chimes so well it’s hard to argue that the new lineup is on the whole more focused and more expressive.

First track progresses into a tight up-tempo stomp with some nifty instrumentation, not least with some good patterns played by Jack Ashley. ‘Vamos a la Luna’ also signals a solid brass accenting, tight guitar chords, Matt Conner’s vocal weaves it’s throughout the many key changes,. rifing the musical bridges-a-plenty with ease. ‘Mummy’s Busy’ works well as a fair worry of the computerisation of the modern age, might be going too far. ‘OPOOM’ is another cry of disappointment come state of flux that adds the spark for another solid performer, note to self don’t piss these guys off.  ‘Voluntary Execution’ convinces as is an insight into the mind of Cameron, but maybe I’m over-egging the MP’s emotional development, imagine my shock to realise is more targeting at the likes of the Etonians, wish fulfilment maybe, which ever your translation, it’s another winner. ‘Too Much’ is more laid back, still punched through with some double-time ska bursts. ‘Time’ sounds is a touch experimental a good song, expanded well, listen for some neat bass fingering by Arvin Bancil.

Pleased I’m not listen to a test pressing on vinyl, I’d be moving a needle  so many times, it would be virtually useless for later plays. as it is from the brass opening of ‘Wisdom Teeth’ signal a star track in my ram-shackled mindset, hats off to Micah Rose-Trespeuch’s saxophone and Ross Moore on trombone sound sweet, the cops m’ robbers bridge even works ruddy well in this charged affair.

‘To The Moon’ is a more well-realised effort than previous, through the course of the 11 tracks the new album never losing sight of a more expressive Ska-fueled goal. ‘To The Moon’ is a gem of an album. Popes of Chillitown should be well chuffed, spread the word, ‘To the moon’ will win old and new fans alike who’d no doubt feel like their Christmas has come early.  8.8/10
Steve Janes

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Popes Of Chillitown – ‘To The Moon’