By Christopher Nosnibor
The Pop Group’s legacy was an enduring one: the three albums they released between 1977 and 1981 are widely regarded as classic examples of the post punk era. Drawing on elements of myriad genres, spanning jazz and dub, they epitomised avant-gardism in a way that punk acts, and indeed, their peers, simply couldn’t even aspire to.
It may be the done thing for acts to reform right now, but they’ve done it on their own terms and it’s fair to say that after the mooted post-reunion album The Alternate failed to materialise, Citizen Zombie has been eagerly anticipated. Let’s face it, 35 years is a hell of a time to wait for a new album.
With cutty guitars slicing across some deep funk grooves, the album is energetic, at times wired and tinged with mania. ‘Mad Truth’ comes on like a wild hybrid of Gang of Four and The Associates, and there are numerous moments on the album that could best be described as ‘flamboyant.’ The Bowie-esque ‘Nowhere Girl’ packs some fizzing guitars and a sense of the stadium epic into its three and a half minutes. There’s no shortage of contrast, though: ‘The Immaculate Deception’ brings a grinding metal guitar and clanking industrial percussion to the mix, while the Fall-do-Krautrock ‘Nations’ references and parodies the ‘choose life’ monologue from ‘Trainspotting’ and exemplifies the political keen they’re so renowned for. The wonky pop of ‘Age of Miracles’ and the equally wonky balladeering of ‘Echelons’ evidence that The Pop Group certainly aren’t going for the sell-out reformation here.
Citizen Zombie may prove to be divisive for fans and critics alike, but the album has three key strengths, its eclecticism being the first, but equally importantly, it sounds fresh and contemporary while still sounding uniquely Pop Group. And for all of those reasons, it was definitely worth the wait.