Pop. 1280 kicked off its career with a clear statement of intent. Last year’s first LP proper, appropriately titled The Horror, was a deliriously abrasive collection of scummy goth-punk—full of lyrical references to copulating canines, serial killers, and the sounds of pounding sheet metal. Simply put: Pop. 1280’s intention is to terrify. As much as Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones Records has become a refuge of the damned, there’s no question that Pop. 1280 is doing its damnedest to prove it’s the damnedest.
The group’s newest record, Imps Of Perversion, only serves to deepen the seeds of dread planted by that debut, though the method of its madness is even more prurient than before. Channeling Nick Cave at his most bestial, frontman Chris Bug laughs his way through the industrial stomp of highlights like “Lights Out” and “Nailhouse” with a mouthful of blood and a pelvic thrust or two. The recording is tidier in places, most notably in the controlled bluster of the former track and the Alan Vega-indebted analog synth blasts on “Human Probe II,” but the characters are even messier than the troubled souls that populated The Horror.
On “Lights Out,” Bug’s protagonist spews his venom over someone who “moves like a wet dream” and who’s dripping some unidentified substance all over his floor. Bug relies on lyrical impressionism in his darkness, but his phlegmy delivery and Ivan Lip’s tortured riffing do enough to sell the salaciousness over whatever is actually going down. Elsewhere, Bug turns to the murkiness of the ocean to color his sexual misdeeds, using the titular deep-sea dweller on “Do The Anglerfish” to cast his activities “in the back of a Chevy” as even further deviance. Later he’s “sweating through [his] underwear” on “Coma Baby” and “making lecherous plans” on “Human Probe,” proving that even as the album winds to a close, his depravity doesn’t.
There are a few commonalities (aside from the perversion) that run through the at times disparate tracks on Imps Of Perversion, like caustic guitar lines, the foreboding rumble of distant floor toms, and acrid plumes of tortured bass. This is a noise-punk album first and foremost, but one informed by the sinister shadow of half-forgotten John Carpenter films. Suicide, The Birthday Party, and the early efforts of Sacred Bones labelmates The Men are obvious distant cousins to Pop. 1280’s all-encompassing dread, but Imps Of Perversion is a singularly mutilated and lecherous mess that functions as a compelling monument to the band’s incestuous relationship with its influences.