Mashes the kitchen-sink drama of Aidan Moffat with a lyrical flow untouched upon since the halcyon days of Scatman John

Feature by Jasper Hamill | 16 May 2006

More likely to have their head in a book than up their own arse, Popup's unpretentious take on literary pop is the perfect balm for those irritated by the rash of poncy art-school bands. Their erudite lyrics, sung in a style which mashes the kitchen-sink drama of Aidan Moffat with a lyrical flow untouched upon since the halcyon days of Scatman John, avoid idle sloganeering and instead flirt with literary stylings, becoming miniature vignettes on workaday frustrations, leering drunkards and Saturday night dance routines. Although they say there's 'nothing in' calling their music Scottish, Damo's light-skipping vocals, sung in an unalloyed Scottish accent, has given an unashamedly indigenous twang to their music.

Paraphrasing James Joyce, Damo reflects on the Portrait of the Artist as A young Man, where the character 'leaves his hometown, feeling repressed by his own environment, only to find that the bigotries, narratives and preoccupations of his hometown,' resounds through everything he does. Mentioning 'Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Indie boys with their pretty hair,' the Glasgow of fall-over partying, tight trousers and gentle sexual coercion resonates throughout the work. Just as Lou Reed used a horde of female characters to break the normalised view of cock-led rock'n'roll, Damo's 'Lucy', and a girl waiting for buses she can never catch are used as avatars for his unflinching dissection of Glasgow.

The band first played together at a Halloween Party, after which they "kept the same disguises," subsequently playing standout gigs at Musicworks, a Radio 1 session and their first London show, for which they half-expected to have to "have subtitles going behind us." Combining a "bit of brain, a bit of delicacy," with coruscating onstage intensity, Popup gained the attention of some of Glasgow's most enlightened luminaries: Alec Downie of the sadly moribund NEMIS organisation, Hijacked Records, who're putting out their first release on the 15th May, and another fantastic record label who shall remain unnamed for the time being.

Lazily compared to the Arctic Monkeys by virtue of their incisive lyricism, their sound is fragile, febrile where the Monkey's is bombastic. The angled melodies of the guitars are backed by taut rhythms drummed out by their drummer Adrienne, who refuses to 'walk along behind the music,' instead experimenting with near-electronic breakbeats, rockabilly punk one-two dance beats and waltzing cadences. With each member "implicit in the process of production," the songs are beautifully crafted, with an organic, almost accidental sounding immediacy that hides the "six months," that often go into making them. When this issue is out, they will have played a seminal gig with Mother and the Addicts and Endor, whose subtly intellectualised aesthetic and eye for a great tune mirrors their own. I hope you went.