HorrorPops – Kiss Kiss Kill Kill

HorrorPops
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill

The members of HorrorPops, Patricia Day on lead vocals and upright bass, Kim Nekroman on lead guitar and vocals, and Henrik Niedermeier on drums and vocals, hail from Copenhagen, Denmark, but now reside in L.A., California. The band continues to bracingly blend older musical genres like rockabilly, punk, and New Wave and yet somehow makes the results sound fresh and vital, with a modern post-punk edge and melodic pop sensibilities. The trio craft intricate rhythms and complex instrumental interplay that lift the songs out of a plain ‘n’ simple rehashing of various musical styles, while allowing enough room for Patricia to clearly convey her lyrics.

The band members deliver a fine-tuned set of songs on their self-produced, cinematically-themed third album, with nary a bum track on the whole platter. The production values are high, with a crisp and clear sound and songs that zip by with crackling energy and that alternate between story-telling numbers like “Hitchcock Starlet” and “Highway 55”and more personal songs like “Boot2Boot” and “Copenhagen Refugee”.

Oftentimes concept albums or a run of songs that focus on a certain musical style can wear thin over time, but HorrorPops keeps it engaging with brief, compact songs, catchy melodies, a jittery, upbeat tempo, and instrumental variation. The extremely dynamic drums, cymbal smash, wiry and gritty guitars, and low-end bass lines play against Patricia’s sweetly clear, aching, slightly nasal, mid-range vocal tone and no-nonsense delivery.

Opener “Thelma & Louise” encapsulates the exhilaration of escape, of driving away from problems and towards freedom, with its briskly paced drums, driving-down-highway guitars, and Patricia’s rousing vocals on the chorus as she exclaims “We’re just gonna drive / …flying high / Fears left behind / …just like Thelma and Louise.”

The upbeat rockabilly tune “Missfit” bristles with Patricia’s tart, spirited vocals as she sing-talks about being an outsider and that “According to you I’m a misfit. / Who made you my judge and jury?” There’s a break mid-way in the song where the tempo suddenly changes into a ska beat and Patricia and the guys shout out defiantly “My fist / in the middle of your face.” to the melody of “Our House” by Madness. Mad brilliant.

“Boot2Boot” is a rally cry written in response to the destruction of a Copenhagen cultural center by police and it works at a speedy, Bad Religion-like pace, with a rapid-fire drum beat and strong vocals from Patricia as she sing-talks with a nasal sneer and growl, exclaiming on the chorus along with backing male shouting vocals and marching boots sound effects.

The snappy, swift-clicking beat and wiry surf guitar of “Heading for the Disco” gives the boot to silly and insipid 1980s rock as Patricia peppily blasts the empty-headed peeps heading for that darn disco, all while dissing Poison in the process, but strangely enough, the band then appropriates a 1980s synth-pop sound on the next number, title track “Kiss Kiss Kill Kill”, where Patricia’s candy apple-glossy vocals coolly emote against spacey keyboard sounds, angular guitar riffs, and background male vocals.

Story-teller mode kicks into high gear on the following song, “Hitchcock Starlet”, which open with a crack of thunder and steady rain, along with low-key guitar notes and a slower drum beat, evoking a 1940s film noir, dame-in-distress ambience as a winding guitar line takes over and Patricia sings in a lower, foreboding tone on the verses. The chorus continues the ominous feel with Patricia exclaiming melodramatically like Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance on “Helena” against a full-bodied accompaniment of guitar, bass line, drum beat, and strands of low male backing vocals.

The surf song is represented with the instrumental “Horror Beach Pt. II” as ocean waves dash and break against the shore, and then a tapping beat, cymbal hits, hand claps, and bass line move in, along with distorted, reverberating guitar and a lighter guitar line riding the crest. The tune flows with an enigmatic undercurrent of low tone male “Ahhh”ing vocals and ends with the swirl and hiss of ocean waves.