For the second song they’ve released this month, POP ETC have concocted a cover of Chris Isaak’s classic single “Wicked Games,” with some serious 80s throw-back vibe.
Sonically, the song doesn’t contain that many surprises–instead focusing on impressive execution and indie pop perfection. The song begins with the bass and drum machine playing a simple repeating pattern, giving the song a pulsating, steady rhythm. The low-mixed kick drum sounds more like it’s whispering instead of booming, giving the song a hauntingly purpulsive drive. Then the guitar comes strumming from deep within a wash of swirling effects, lending the song an additional syncopated sway that would fit in perfectly on Police deep cut.
Every thing in the song seems to point towards an 80’s synthpop vibe, from the processed guitars to the auto-tuned vocals. Still, you can sense that frontman Chris Chu’s voice has an unflawed smoothness to it and that the auto-tune is more of a formality than a necessity. For instance, he handles Isaak’s characteristic vocal cracks with a lightning quick, unphased switch from his lower to upper register. Whether he’s singing high or low, Chu’s vocals are gorgeous and immediate. It’s also makes for a nice change of pace when the vocal harmony’s come in at the end, swallowed up by layers of echo, that give the arrangement a new sense of depth. All together, POP ETC’s version of the song is an intriguing if somewhat unsurprising take on the song.
Born out of the ashes of indie darlings The Morning Benders, Chu decided to change the name of the group to POP ETC in 2012, which conveniently also reflected the new artistic direction he wanted for the music he was writing. As the band transitioned from Berkeley, CA to Brooklyn, Chu took hold-overs multi-instrumentalist Julian Harmon as well as his brother and lead guitarist Jon Chu to form the newly christened POP ETC.
Only a month later, the band announced a self-titled debut to be released that summer. Handling the song writing, production and mixing himself, Chu was able to maintain extensive creative control over the tone of the band’s debut self titled album. You can read mxdwn’s review of the debut album here.
As mentioned above, POP ETC also recently released the new synthpop song “Running in Circles” less than a month ago. The song is an even catchier version of their hook-driven pop (one which owes even more to bands like Big Country and Tears for Fears) explored in the cover below.
Considering the band haven’t released an album in almost three years, this slew of new material comes in light of the fact that the band intends to release a new full-length at some point later in the year. When exactly this will happen or what they intend to call the album remains unknown, but judging from the advanced songs the band has released, fans can expect more of the same pop infectiousness from the group moving forward.
Listen to POP ETC’s cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” below.