When Greg Spencer and Shawn Gross decided to work together on a musical project with more substance than most “cookie cutter, flavor of the week” bands flooding the airwaves, they didn’t leave behind pop sensibility. Population’s first full-length album And/Or is full of guitar hooks, sweeping melodies, and a heavy electronica presence. Comparisons can be made to contemporaries like Girls Against Boys and God Lives Underwater.Spencer’s vocals are heavily rooted in indie rock. Though a little too nasally at times, Spencer still manages to pull off some successful vocal harmonies. Songs like “Euclid Ave.” and “Now” have memorable hooks that are reminiscent of other great chord changes from pop music’s past, but enough composition to stand on their own. Gross builds upon Spencer’s song structures with layers of drum machines, sampling and scratching. Songs like “Evaporate” and the “Euclid Ave. Trip Away Mix” pulse with drum and bass influence.
And/Or has excellent production in its corner, but as a band Population has yet to lock in on their own sound. In their quest not to sound like contrived radio drivel, Population executes a number of tricks. However everything doesn’t quite fit together into truly memorable songs. If Spencer and Gross stick together with their live drummer Tim Clark and really develop their songwriting skills, then Population could possibly be a name to watch out for. But in the meantime And/Or is a so-so album with a consistent sound but no real peaks.