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CD Review: POP. 1280's The Horror 

It's telling that Pop. 1280 has been variously categorized as cyberpunk and pigfuck, though the band itself offers neither the technological fetishism the former prescribes, nor does it gel neatly with the '90s noise-rock vanguard that led critic Robert Christgau to coin the latter term. True, on the New York foursome's first long-player, the threatening forcefulness of Swans and The Jesus Lizard are undeniable, especially as vocalist Chris Bug barks vitriolic commands like, "The thing about dogs/Is they don't know what they're doin'/I want you to beg/Like a human." But reducing Pop. 1280 to those partial, if prominent, elements does a disservice to the band's singularly unsettling post-punk aura. Just as much as Big Black's proto-industrial scuzz-stomps leave a mark (See: "Burn The Worm"), so do Birthday Party-style creep-outs (See: "Cyclotron") and body-horror imagery worthy of The Cramps' Lux Interior (See: "Hang 'Em High"). Lip is a fearsome frontman, sure, but Pop. 1280 suggests more than mere malice. Here, anxiety is the dominant emotion, propelled by frayed-wire guitar-lines that stagger like mutant surf licks, and throbbing synths that charge the songs with a seasick pulse indebted to Suicide's bleak, hypnotic proto-punk. In 2009, Bug told The Village Voice, "I think this undercurrent of filth and sewage and parasites is the most fascinating part of city life, and it is something that inspires all of our music." And as much as Pop. 1280 trawls the dark underbelly of city life for inspiration, it excavates the dark corners of fringe rock for the same. Ironically, the dark punk that resulted is so arresting it deserves to inhabit more than the overlooked underground. RIYL: Pygmy Shrews, TV Ghost, Total Control

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