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We’re Post Pop. It’s about time.

I’ve had a tortuous relationship with the band My Flag is on Fire, for quite a while. Actually, since the release, and subsequent abandonment of the sound on their eponymous EP. I respect the band immensely, enjoy their music when I hear it, I like songs off all their albums, but they haven’t released a collection of songs that I wanted to listen to from beginning to end without skipping since the EP.

Phew, it feels good to get that off my chest. I’m here to tell you something. They’ve done it again. They’ve made an album I want to listen to the whole way through, that is. That album is their new one, Post Pop.

Let’s start off with the most dramatic change in direction for this band in years. Songs is a sweet number that, at just under 5 minutes in length, is a pretty short MFioF song. (Hey, that’s just how it is.) Synth pads play a prominent role; this song feels decidedly electric and dare I say, organized in advance. With some horns that key to White Bicycle, this song seems to be tying all kinds of dimensions of this band’s sound into one song.

Then there are the songs the band recorded years ago. Doom Decibels & Destruction seems to be telling us, “this is a way that these songs can sound.” And Harmony seems to be saying, “… and here’s a less electric take on an old classic.” I Quit is reimagined as a country ballad. (It fares well.)

There’s new material working here, too. In Un-titles, we are requested to please “don’t fuck with my heart.” Absolved is pretty and short.

Urban Farms is a number that mixes prog and folk influences. With this 9-minute track, you’re listening to My Flag is on Fire at their best. It’s a completely new sonic dimension for them, but it uses things that you know they’re good at using. It unites the accordion and electric guitar and synthesizer instincts of this diverse group of musicians better than any previous effort.

This album has some other interesting things. For example, on Natural Love, it sounds like the band is mixing Weezer influences (Island in the Sun) with The Cure (Just Like Heaven.) They get away with it.

Rounding out the mix, New Classic gives us a moment’s pause to bask in melody and soul… albeit from a melancholy point of view. It’s a big song, and it really showcases the diversity of compositions that this group of musicians is capable of arranging and performing.

If this album has a theme, it’s that the old is new, and so is the new. Effortlessly mixing musical styles from the band’s influences as well as the band’s past, this is quite an album. Highly recommended.

Wolpertinger: How We Are Alike

How to write about the sprawling, sometimes melancholy, collection of songs frm Wolpertinger entitled How We Are Alike, is a subject that has evaded me since I started listening to it.

My history of listening to this band goes back a while, when in the summer of 2011, the band’s album Lady Midday accompanied me on a considerable number of road trips. Wolpertinger is, if nothing else, music to travel to, especially in those cases where the lyrics are describing thoughts and feelings that might be occurring in the listener’s mind. How this band can put out music that so accurately mirrors my mood confounds me.

You might be guessing that at least for this reviewer, the second full-length album does it yet again, and to a certain extent, you’d be right. But in those cases where the music doesn’t describe my actual thoughts and feelings, it provides an excellent backdrop against which to put my thoughts and feelings in relief.

There’s nothing predictable about this album, and like a lot of good music, particularly prog rock (a genre to which the band would probably claim membership,) it takes a few listens to get the hang of it. But once you’re there with it, it’s there with you.

This album brings out a more anthemic direction from Wolpertinger, with tracks like “Friends and the Fear”, “Night”, and “Summer Isn’t Coming”. The first two tracks have a certain sort of pop appeal, and the third is quite an affair, hearkening back to musical theater with its chorale parts as well as its numerous movements and layered melodies.

The album brings out another sense that comes through in past Wolpertinger lyrics, that of a recognition, acknowledgement, and commentary on the baser bits of human existence. What in the track “Get Lost” is an offer to celebrate that baseness, we find reborn in “When We Get To The Interzone” as a callous reflection on it from the perspective of a world traveler. Where on “Stolyarny Lane”, there is a sense of yearning to get in and explore the night, on “Rockland” is the sense of the inevitable comedown. Nothing but dead neon here, indeed. God damnit.

Love comes, and it comes with pretty gay lyrics. “Alaska” conveys a sense of desire to run away, embracing a place personified as a new soul mate, or at least life partner, whereas “Psycho Boyfriend” tells a tale that is fairly self-explanatory.

9 tracks, and there are still another 6 tracks to cover, requiring more words. Those words will come, because I will hear those songs over and over again this fall – this time on walks through cities I have grown familiar and comfortable with. With How We Are Alike, Wolpertinger captures the essence of fall through tracks that explore a considerable range of human emotion and experience, and it is well produced, well played, and well sung music that spans genres at most times effortlessly. Give it a listen.