Pop Fiction CD
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The Popguns - Pop Fiction CD

matcd070   /   December 2014
 #popguns
  1. City Lights
  2. If You Ever Change Your Mind
  3. Lovejunky
  4. Still Waiting For The Winter
  5. Alfa Romeo
  6. Out Of Sight
  7. Not Your Night Tonight
  8. Leaning On The Backline
  9. Something Going On
  10. I'll See You Later

Highly anticipated and absolutely superb new album from legendary English band The Popguns!

Purveyors of heartfelt, uncomplicated pop music, carried by melodies and vocals that go straight to the heart, the group’s debut single ‘Landslide’ in 1989 was voted into John Peel’s Festive 50 and a rush of brilliant singles and albums over the next six years assured the band a well-deserved place in pop history.

Recently the four original members reformed along with a new drummer and backing singer and this year has seen them play to enthusiastic audiences in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, and the prestigious Indietracks Festival.

The first Popguns album since 1996, ‘Pop Fiction’ is a truly magnificent return. Epic album opener ‘City Lights’ begins with a chiming guitar intro that builds into dreamy vocals telling a tale of misplaced affections and the alluring lights of the big, bad city, accompanied by some especially dazzling melodies. Meanwhile, ‘If You Ever Change Your Mind’ is a classic three-minute power pop tune with a wicked hook and a little twist in the tail. The song was inspired in part by an episode of the Danish political drama ‘Borgen’ and is a stunning showcase for the incomparable vocals of Wendy Pickles.

The album continues with the immediate pop hit ‘Lovejunky’ which was released earlier this year as a limited red vinyl 7” single. It’s a glorious song with soaring vocals, driving guitars, an insanely catchy chorus, and marvelous harmonies. Next, a long acoustic intro for ‘Still Waiting For The Winter’ showcases dual female vocals before the rest of the ‘Guns arrive for a reflective journey through a vignette of Popgun nights out on the Brighton seafront. The song references the band’s second single and live favorite ‘Waiting For The Winter’ from 1989, giving long-time fans even more to smile about.

‘Alfa Romeo’ is a single contender inspired by the fascinating story of American trumpeter Chet Baker, and the mood of the song perfectly fits the romantic image of the unimaginably cool Baker in his Alfa Romeo on the boulevards of San Francisco, Paris and Rome.

Side two of the album opens with the slow burner ‘Out of Sight’ with its tom-tom intro providing the base for some ethereal feedback guitar and gorgeous layered vocals. It’s an altogether different side to The Popguns as they sink into the divine sound of a long distance love affair quietly beating on a rainy Wednesday night. This segues into the sparse backing track of ‘Not Your Night Tonight’, which lets Wendy’s voice be heard in its full beauty with lyrical shades of Lou Reed and Bob Dylan and some beautifully twinkling keyboards.

‘Leaning on the Backline’ is a proper up-tempo indie guitar track and a nostalgic look back to the late 80s and the people and places around the band at that time, while ‘Something Going On’ sits perfectly beside any track from that time period as a classic Popguns song with Wendy’s vocal delivery leaving no doubt that this is still someone not to be messed with! Finally, ‘I’ll See You Later’ is a celebratory sign off to the album with The Popguns getting as close to rock as they probably ever will with some solid guitar riffs.

Utterly accomplished and bursting with confidence, ‘Pop Fiction’ is that great pop record The Popguns always promised when they formed 25 years ago and an absolutely spectacular return for the band. Pop perfection indeed!

 
reviews
The Popguns' first album after 20 years away from the recording studio shows no signs of rust; if anything, ‘Pop Fiction’ sounds like it could have been released during the band's heyday in the early '90s and been considered another in a series of great noisy, jangly indie pop gems. Featuring the powerfully simple vocals of Wendy Pickles, some loud guitars, lots of melancholy, and hooks sharp enough to cut through the years, the album is grown folks' indie pop of the highest caliber. Produced with care by the bandmembers themselves, the album sounds airlifted out of the past but not stuck in it, despite referencing one of their early classics, "Waiting for the Winter," on "Still Waiting for the Winter." Instead, that less than subtle nod to their past lets the listener know that this isn't a band of kids hijacking, then spitting out, some nostalgic brew of jangling noise pop. This is a band who lived through the glory years and is back to recapture its position as one of the best. Along with that song, the Popguns dole out plenty more reasons why they deserve to be back making albums and not just treading the boards at the occasional festival. Lead single "Lovejunky" is a wonderful reminder of why the band was so special, sounding like a distaff Wedding Present without the grimacing but with all the emotion and bass and guitar firepower. It fits perfectly into an album of catchy upbeat tunes ("Something Going On," "If You Ever Change Your Mind"), sweetly swaying midtempo ones ("City Lights," "I'll See You Later"), and a couple tender ballads ("Out of Sight," "Still Waiting for the Winter") that rate with the best of their early work, all adding up to a truly impressive comeback. Say what you will about the steady stream of bands in the 2010s who couldn't wait to dust off their instruments, rally the old gang, and venture back into the music game; if they all did it with the style and skill the Popguns exhibit on ‘Pop Fiction’, those people who find fault with said bands would have a whole lot less to complain about.   --All Music Guide
I have a confession to make to Simon Pickles, the genius tunesmith behind the Brighton band's reunion album: I’m in love with the missus. There, I’ve said it and I feel a whole lot better. A few months ago I stumbled across a home video (turns out it was by the band’s bassist and web guru Pat Walkington) of a 20-year-old track called ‘Someone to Dream of’. I was dumbfounded, astonished, and besotted all in one breathtaking moment. The slow build, the eager anticipation, all leading to the final orgiastic release - here was rock 'n' roll's version of Ravel's Balero all rolled into 5 minutes! Who is that singer and where has she been all my life? For that matter, who are The Popguns and where have they been all my life? Being an unfortunate ol’ sod born across the pond where the musical politics are almost as dirty as dear ol’ blighty, the lack of an influential label left them off the airwaves and out of the fanzines. In short, I’d never heard of ‘em. Instant gratification in the form of an internet search (you were expecting a different kind, you ol’ bugger!) revealed a small, but manageable back-catalogue, with the aforementioned masterpiece, one of the most heartwrenching plea-cum-put-downs ever committed to plastic nestled on their lone US release, albeit on an obscure German label known for its disco releases. No wonder I couldn’t find it. Frantic internet searches revealed that all four original albums were long out of print and used copies were trading for extortionist prices on the internet. So imagine the surprise and astonishment that had me bopping up and down like a little boy on Christmas morning when I discovered that good old Simon and most of the original line-up (Tony Bryant now mans the drum-kit and they’ve added a second singer, Kate Mander, to fill in the harmonies) had returned to active duty and were set to release a reunion album. This be it, and without hesitation, I can assure you in no uncertain terms it’s the best pop album you will hear this year. For starters, Wendy Morgan (now Mrs Pickles…in the studio…with a microphone – sorry, that Clue joke was just too much to resist, but I’ve got it out of my system now) has lost none of the lustre, the yearning, the emotion which ripped my heart out as soon as I heard her. It’s a voice that is romantic, nostalgic, imploring, full of pain and fear and loss and anger and, well, now I’m standing here gushing like a lonely schoolboy (apologies to Mr Weller). I’ve been in relationships that ended, mostly due to the object of my affection’s loss of interest, and no one has captured that gutted feeling more perfectly than Wendy (sorry, do I call you Mrs Pickles?) Go back and listen to ‘Someone You Love’ and their life-changing single ‘Waiting for the Winter’ from the Eugenie debut, and you’ll know what I mean. Thank you, Mr Pickles, for capturing that emptiness and helping me to realize that I’m not alone. As I look back on those relationships, I can get through the tears whenever I listen to the missus express your own sentiment with that angelic voice. So, now to the matter at hand. A new album of 10 boss tracks that show the band at the peak of their form, having lost none of their energy, passion, and gift for perfectly formed jingle-jangle excitement. ‘City Lights’ opens with a lengthy (in pure pop terms) guitar passage, before Wendy’s voice flutters into the room as crisp and emotive as ever. By the time she accepts the end of the relationship (“Say the words and I’ll work away/ City Lights are fading far behind”), it’s clear that neither Pickles have lost any of their old magic. The melancholy is still there, but, as always, the resignation and acceptance of their characters’ fate makes them stronger to go out there and try again. As she sings in closer ‘I’ll See You Later’: “I’m a different person now/ I’ll see you later/ I’ve got my life to live”. There’s an incessant, power-poppy sensibility to ‘If You Ever Change Your Mind’ that is honey drippin’ with the elegance and sweetness of the recent Primitives album (Spin-O-Rama), while the early single ‘Lovejunky’ sounds like it was recorded for the eponymous album 20 years ago – the band chugs along in double-time behind Wendy’s hesitant, cautious vocal: I can’t fall for the wrong guy… again. Pickles’ solo is perfectly placed as a sorbet to help us catch our collective breath. ‘Still Waiting for the Winter’, like ‘Lovejunky’, is a nostalgic look back to both the band’s earlier triumphs and the song’s characters “second chance” at love. The original’s beat (and lyric) have been softened, it’s now a forlorn ballad of regret of what might have been rather than an angry diatribe against the wanker that dumped our heroine. Along with the punny album title, these nostalgic, self-referential songs suggest that Pickles and co have lost none of their collective sense of humour and are having the time of their lives with their recent successes, which have resulted in sold-out concerts from New York City to Paris and Germany, and a few haunts a little closer to home (cf the Prince Albert, Brighton’s Haunt, or Plymouth’s Cooperage). The dreamy ballad ‘Out of Sight’ begins side two in reflective mood, Wendy and Kate’s vocals blending seamlessly for another tearjerking classic. Grab a loved one and hold on tight for some slow dancing to this one. ‘Not Your Night Tonight’ continues in a chill-down mood, with Wendy’s voice as angelic as ever, pain and loss seeping from every pore and Kate softly whispering around her in sad, melancholic harmony. The band are also in a hazy, drifting mood here – toning down the jangle and perfectly complimenting Wendy and Kate’s soothing, comforting vocal. It’s refreshing when an old love returns bearing gifts and souvenirs from the good old days – inviting an opportunity to relive past memories and wonder again what might have been. These songs are rife with that nostalgic mood, but like “someone you loved” who’s moved on, when you reconnect, it’s comforting to know they’ve survived and you can now look back on those days and have a larf and accept the hand life dealt you. The Popguns are back after 20 years. Some, like the Pickles are married with children, but it’s amazing that after all these years, they’ve got the whole gang back together and have picked up where they left off without missing a (back)beat. Good on ya, this is how it should be done. Now about that reissue project :). 10/10   --Soundblab
Pop! Guns! Who needs imaginative metaphors when the band themselves have already given you the most accurate description of their plan of attack by way of their very name? They make "uncomplicated pop music", so why get all wordy and flamboyant when writing about them? Indiepop fans may well have very fond memories of the Brighton group from their first incarnation, and those who were too young or were somehow bypassed in the early '90s might have caught the reformed band playing around the world (New York, Berlin, Paris, London) or at the Indietracks festival recently. What will those original fans remember, and what will the newcomers have found? Yes, it may be cliche time, but with a name like The Popguns you just know to expect sugar-kissed bullets of melody-filled guitar-pop: the formula certainly isn't new, and it would probably have been a disappointment if it had been. The production is a little more contemporary, but the songs don't come with a date-stamp, these belong to forever. The slightly scuzzy, powerpop-ish 'Lovejunky' was a fine way to return after 18 years away: an infectious shot of earcandy that showed us this isn't a band desperate to relive past glories, this is a band with a hunger to create new ones. The Popguns can and do allow themselves space to get a little more epic and thoughtful, and this is evident on gorgeous opener 'City Lights', but second track 'If You Ever Change Your Mind' is prime indiepop that's not lacking in the chorus department, and with 'Lovejunky' following on its heels 'Pop Fiction' has already captured your heart. If another single is needed, then the band just need to pick a number between 1 and 10 - this could almost be a singles collection, but the tunesome 'Alfa Romeo' isn't going to leave you wanting, and neither will 'Leaning On The Backline'. There aren't really any weak links here. If you need a breather then the harmonious twinkle of 'Still Waiting For The Winter' is a touch less direct, but only for a minute or so until everything kicks in. 'Out Of Sight' eases off the gas slightly, and were it not for those sweet vocals this could be a dark and eerie number, albeit one that switches from stuttering drums and bleak atmospherics to sweeping beauty in the blink of an eye. It's really only the pensive 'Not Your Night Tonight' that you could describe as a slowie. It does offer some variation without going off track, as does the grittier, uptempo 'Something Going On'. When they depart with the winding guitar lines of 'I'll See You Later' there can be little doubt that The Popguns are indeed back with a bang, and most likely having a blast while they're at it.   --Sounds XP
Where have The Popguns been all of my life?!?! This feels like the most absurd oversight in my personal music history. I remember seeing their albums and singles in the bins at great record stores like the Ooze, 2nd Avenue, and the import section at Tower Records back in the early 90s. I’m sure I read about them in all the music magazines I read or used to read. Yet for some reason, I never knowingly heard them. That is until this fall. I guess that is one huge advantage of technology. Back then, there was little chance of actually hearing lesser publicized music that was sealed inside a vinyl jacket, or plastic CD case on the shelves of the better shops, so one had to stumble upon things by chance, or by taking the risk of purchasing unheard (I’m sure there are other options, but in my world, there was a lot of debate over which record I’d never heard I desired more – based solely on word of mouth). When the “Lovejunky” 7” appeared as a new release from the wonderful indie pop label Matinée Recordings a couple of months back, all I had to do was click a button on my computer screen to quash my curiosity. Let’s just say that the candy red colored vinyl was ordered right away. Likewise, the full length, Pop Fiction, the band’s first in 18 years (where do I find the back catalogue?!) has been on constant repeat for weeks now. I never grow tired of it. From the opening ringing guitars of “City Lights” by Simon Pickles and Greg Dixon – underscored by Pat Walkington’s bass line – I get shivers up my spine with anticipation. Then comes Tony Bryant’s crashing mid-tempo drums and Wendy’s melancholic, mixed emotional vocal turn as she says farewell to a place, a life, a past (“never hear from me again”). The internal tension of the performance is enhanced by the ever increasing intensity of the guitars as the song progresses. From the get go, this album doesn’t feel like a band returning from a long time away, but a band hitting their stride during a particular fertile creative stretch. They’ve even included a sequel to the still brand new to me “Waiting for the Winter” single from the 1990 first album, Eugenie, with “Still Waiting for the Winter.” Where the original version is a propulsive kiss off to an uncaring lover, this new version is appropriately, a more reflective second part in the long ago wake of the break up. Wendy’s lyrical imagery is tangible as she sets the scene of a gathering bringing a group of old companions together and reminiscing about the girl who has vowed to never come back (“she’s never coming back again / yeah, I heard that she’s o.k. / still a world away”). There is a lot of reflection going on throughout the album, but it all feels so fresh, because of the vibrant music and Wendy’s wonderful voice, along with tasteful backing vocals from Kate Mander. “Leaning on the Backline” brings up memories of a long lost friendship and the curiosity of the unexplored inside yet another perfect song structure and the fun sing a long chorus and closing refrain: “and did you find that love was not divine and kisses not like wine?” Likewise, “Something Going On” comes on with a striking and sharp repetitive guitar strum and more curiosity if there was or is some kind of unexplored connection between two long time acquaintances. The closing “I’ll See You Later,” on the other hand, has the feel of personal triumph as Wendy sings about the ignored girl from the past, becoming the sought after woman and the point is ever emphasized by her soaring vocals in the powerful chorus. Every damn song is a keeper. The pure pop of the standing in the wings “If You Ever Change Your Mind,” and the gliding cool of “Alfa Romeo” are so addictive and brilliant ear candy. The only slow down of shiny hooks comes with the back to back slower songs in the middle section of the album. “Out of Sight” soars with tasteful feedback atmospherics atop a rumbling beat, as the lyrics explore the strength of a relationship. Is it one of convenience? While the acoustic “Not Your Night Tonight” is a very gentle turn down, as Wendy sings “cause there’s no ‘us’” to some unfortunate guy who had higher hopes. This is already one of my favorite albums of the year and cannot recommend it with any more gusto. Welcome back Popguns! Glad you decided to return to introduce yourselves.   --This Wreckage
Even though the Popguns haven't had a full-length album since 1996, thanks to the triumphant lead-in single "Lovejunky," released this past September, I had little anxiety the Popguns could pull off a modest little record a few of us die-hard fans would enjoy for a few minutes before we went back to our copies of 'Another Year, Another Address... the Best of the Midnight Years.' What I didn't expect was a tour de force that deserves its rightful place beside 'Eugenie' and 'Snog' as the Popguns' best work. 'Pop Fiction' is an absolute no-filler affair. Every note is a keeper, and a few of the songs would be bona fide hits if this was 1989 and we still cared about such things. Among the highlights: "Alfa Romeo" has this laid-back "Let's Get Lost" quality that Chet Baker, the song's protagonist, would have found cool. It reminds me a bit of 10,000 Maniacs during the 'In My Tribe' era. "Still Waiting for the Winter" turns things down a bit and flips the band's old single and fan fave on its head. The back and forth between Wendy Pickles and Kate Mander gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, and I only hope these two takes of "Waiting For the Winter" are played back to back on stage. My great love of the album is the dramatic ballad "Out of Sight." The beautiful and mournful chorus slowly penetrates the soul. You can't help but hope these two in the song make it in the end. The jangle of "I’ll See You Later" closes the album and send us off optimistic this isn't the last we will hear from the reformed Popguns. I have been known to have moments of hyperbole, but I'm certain 'Pop Fiction' will be vying for my album of the year.   --Linear Tracking Lives
Brighton, England’s Popguns (originally 1986-1996) released four albums at the closing skirmishes of c86 that reveled in that explosion’s taught indie-pop energy and jangly guitars—with enough effects to abstractedly anticipate oncoming dreampop—while boasting a lovely singer, Wendy Morgan, too low in their guitar-centric mix. Having resurrected in 2012, four of five originals intact (new drummer, second singer added)… they make their finest album, avoiding nostalgia! Without losing the guitars or melodic bent, Pop Fiction slows the tempos a tick, grooves more lithely, and adds dollops of windswept romanticism into a lush backdrop to beguiling lyrics, while featuring Morgan’s lullaby sweetness more prominently. Two titles reference their past (“Lovejunky,” and “Still Waiting For the Winter”), but the LP bursts with mature modernity, a rare, wizened band perfecting their craft the second time around. From the hooky glide and romantic swoon of the standout opener “City Lights” (“Say it’s over and I’ll walk away”) on, Pop Fiction is so engaging, snappy, and timeless, it’s analogous to the finest 80s UK pop of its kind (Smiths, Go-Betweens, early Creation singles). It’s exquisite, charming, joyous music to fall in love with… and to.   --The Big Takeover Magazine
In my opinion, Brighton's beloved The Popguns were at the head of the class for guitar pop in the late '80s and '90s. The intertwined guitars were loud, but not abrasive, and as regular readers here know, if I compare another female vocalist to Wendy (Morgan) Pickles, I am giving her one of my higher compliments. As a fan, you tend to regard such a band as an old friend, but frozen in time. You visit them from time to time, fall in love with the music all over again and bask in the memories of time and place. If the band reunites years later, you feel joy about the possibilities of new music, but trepidation that the magic may be gone, abilities and inspiration eroded, and motivations compromised. Those worries are understandable, and all too often fulfilled. Happily, however, they do not apply to The Popguns, or their stellar new album for Matinee Recordings, Pop Fiction. The very evident genius of this group is that they know what they do very well, and they keep doing it better. There are new songs and, years down the road, new perspectives. But when you have a vocalist like Wendy, excellent guitarists and top flight songwriting, the strategy cannot be questioned. And stitching it together is the confidence and sincerity of the performances. The album opens with strength -- the ringing guitars and floating vocals of "City Lights" evoking an the end of the day and the promise of the evening. The pace picks up with the appealingly chugging "If You Ever Change Your Mind", telling a story of almost-not-quite-maybe-never mind love (I think most of us can relate to that). Track three is the buoyant lover's plea, "Lovejunky", which we reviewed when it was released earlier this year as a single (review here). Next is "Still Waiting for the Winter", a thoroughly captivating addendum to their long ago hit "Waiting for the Winter". Wendy sings "if you're still waiting for the winter, then you already missed her / And she's never coming back again / Yeah I heard that she's OK, still a world away / Were you hoping for the rain?", and then closes with "I felt the coming of the winter, my heart began to shiver / Cos we're never coming back again / We're already on our way, half a world away / never coming back again". It is one of my favorite songs on the album. "Alfa Romeo" is a melodic and bittersweet cautionary tale of fame and life on the road, apparently inspired by American musician Chet Baker. "Out of Sight" and "Not Your Night Tonight" dial it down to contemplate love and relationships after the lustful teens and 20s. In the former the narrator muses about whether her long distance lover thinks of her when they are apart. In the latter, she advises a hopeful suitor that she isn't interested. The pace picks up again for two songs that also seem paired. In "Leaning on the Backline" Wendy takes a wistful look back at old times and past friendship. In "Something Going On, over buzzing guitars, the narrator expresses irritation with an long ago acquaintance who seems to want something in which she has no interest. Fittingly, the closing track, "I'll See You Later", tells of a woman who calls time on a relationship as she looks forward to the possibilities of the future; meanwhile, the band rocks out. Pop Fiction finds The Popguns supremely accomplished, fully inspired and on top of their game. The album is available in CD and digital formats from the ever tasteful Matinée Recordings.   --When You Motor Away
Indie pop band's first record in over 20 years sounds as fresh and fun as anything from their original run.   --All Music Guide (Editors’ Choice)
I was glad to hear The Popguns were alive again when they sent their recent single into CZ towards the end of last year and now there is a full length - their first one in 20 years or so. They always had a knack at writing smartly, simple indie pop songs full of wistfulness and nostalgia and time hasn't done anything to change that. The emotive vocals of Wendy Pickles had me hooked when I was a teenager and they still do now. The first song "City Lights" has that sad, jangly, power poppy feel I associate them with and it's an opener that sends me straight back to 1996. "Lovejunky", the lead track from that recent single, is a gem of a track and re-appears here. Straight after that one, they nod to one of their oldest songs "Waiting For The Winter" with "Still Waiting For The Winter" and it's full of imagery of the band in Brighton in the early days. The jangle on the guitar in "Leaning on the Backline" is utterly gorgeous and the lyrics are a perfect mix of nostalgia and regret. Great song - maybe I'd pick that as the standout. It's that mix of nostalgia and wistfulness that I find so appealing in the lyrics. There is also a song on here called "Alfa Romeo" and it features lyrics like "Oh you, unimaginably cool on the boulevard in your Alfa Romeo". I was thinking it was a bit of a funny choice of topic before the realisation hit me that it was specifically about Chet Baker and his car and he did drive an Alfa Romeo (apparently). If you liked this band's previous stuff I think you will love this. I think it's better than "Snog". This is 10 songs that fit that old blueprint but it's a more consistent album overall and this goes to show that the Popguns can still write great pop songs after all this time.   --Collective Zine
With half the bands under the sun having reformed over the past few years with varying degrees of success, one of the resurrections that particularly pleased us was that of The Popguns, perhaps the best ever band to emerge from Sussex. In 1989 and 1990 the Brighton five-piece produced three EPs of such breathtaking quality that many of us found it quite difficult to believe they were not perpetually cemented to the very summit of the charts. Wrongly dismissed as 'cute' by those who never listened properly, The Popguns' music may have jangled with the best of them, but their lyrics lifted them way above their peers, managing to be both desperately sad and sadly desperate at the same time. Though written by a man and sung by a woman, their tales of heartbreak and failure resonated with either sex, singer Wendy Morgan (now Pickles) breaking hearts with every sorry tale and every cracking note while the music soared and sparkled around her, the sheer contrast bringing into harsh focus the blackness and despair playing out at its very heart. Reborn as a six-piece, with additional vocalist Kate Mander joining the throng, the band's recent reformation has led quickly to the release of a new album on Matinee Recordings and it is delightful to discover that this recording is exactly what we would have hoped: intelligent, melodic and drowning in the melancholy they harvest so well and which was perhaps lacking in some of their later material. Twenty-five years down the line, The Popguns were never going to explode in cascades of youthful emotion as they had in their first EP's lead track 'Landslide', but they remain splendidly self-obsessed, opening the album with the desolate farewell of 'City Lights' with its almost mocking guitar chime building into something a more powerful and bitter as the blackness overwhelms. It's great. As is the fact the band reference former singles 'Waiting For The Winter' and 'Still A World Away' in the stunning 'Still Waiting For The Winter' which opens, "Friday night outside The Grand, a wedding disco band plays 'Boogie Wonderland'. In the darkness by the sea, the guys are smoking weed, huddled from the breeze," a beautifully evocative picture of a Brighton night in a song that remains relentlessly bleak and utterly captivating. As the backing vocals burst into the chorus of 1990's 'Waiting For The Winter' it is clear The Popguns may have grown up but they have not moved on, as rooted in their environment as they are in their emotional instability: always in Brighton and always in tears as the rest of the world passes them by at its own pace. This maudlin charm underwrites the whole of Pop Fiction; fiction it may be but it is all-embracing, convincing as hell and you cannot help but empathise. We all remember the saddest moments in our life and The Popguns help you drag them all back to the surface and then pretend you learn from your mistakes. In truth, if anyone had been as disappointed as many times as they had in their songs they would have long dropped themselves off the end of the pier, and more than likely as the streetlights on the shore flickered into life in the gathering dusk of the afternoon while a taxi took the love of their lives off to another land. We love The Popguns.   --Isolation
The Popguns‘ first album after 20 years away from the recording studio shows no signs of rust; if anything, Pop Fiction sounds like it could have been released during the band’s heyday in the early ’90s and been considered another in a series of great noisy, jangly indie pop gems. Featuring the powerfully simple vocals of Wendy Pickles, some loud guitars, lots of melancholy, and hooks sharp enough to cut through the years, the album is grown folks’ indie pop of the highest caliber. Produced with care by the bandmembers themselves, the album sounds airlifted out of the past but not stuck in it, despite referencing one of their early classics, “Waiting for the Winter,” on “Still Waiting for the Winter.”   --Skvot-Pop
As reunion albums go, this may be my all-time favourite. Everything that set my heart aflutter (especially Wendy Morgan, now Pickles’ voice) is recaptured on these 10 brisk, jangly pop masterpieces from the pen of guitarist Simon Pickles. The whole band is back, with a new drummer and second vocalist Kate Mander, who introduces excellent harmonies which soar over, under, sideways, and around Wendy like a feather falling from an overhead dove. Their sense of humour survives intact, with self-referential tracks like the lead single ‘Lovejunky’ (not on the eponymous, two-word 1995 album, although it sounds as fresh as if it were recorded for it) and the sequel to their earth-shattering ‘Waiting for the Winter’ bringing everything full circle as if they never left. The pain, yearning, and emotion in Wendy’s voice still astonishes – no one emotes regret better – and Simon’s jingle-jangle pop tunes still evince a masterfully gifted songcraft. There’s heartache (‘Not Your Night Tonight”, ‘Out of Sight’) mixed in with instant power-pop classics like ‘Lovejunky’, ‘City Lights’, and ‘If You Ever Change Your Mind’. This is what tight musicianship, peerless songwriting, and an angelic choir up-front is all about and no release made me smile more this year.   --Soundblab (Top Releases of 2014)
In Brief: Returning power-indiepop heroes triumph with wall-to-wall tunes on what sounds like a greatest hits album.   --The Sound of Confusion (Top Albums of 2014)
I don't bother much with thinking about albums of the year type lists, but Pop Fiction by Pop Guns was a highlight of 2014. It lends memories of that perfect indie pop from the early 1990s, but also sounds very now, and is very essential, emotional, confident pop. The charcoal drawn album cover also gives smitten delight.   --All Thrills No Frills
Though they never enjoyed a huge level of exposure, The Popguns released some of the most vital indie pop of the era over the course of their decade long initial run between 1986 and 1996. Alongside the likes of The Pastels, Heavenly, the Shop Assistants, and early My Bloody Valentine, they continue to haunt blogs dedicated to the genre, introducing the now almost thirty year old project to a new generation of listeners. Nearly two decades after breaking up, their first record since reuniting in 2012 captures everything that endeared them to fans in the first place with ten new tracks of unpretentious pop that sound like they could have been released by Sarah Records, Heavenly Records, or K back in the early ‘90s, proving that no matter how hard young musicians try to recreate the sound, it’s the bands who perfected it in the first place who best carry the torch.   --Flavorpill
In which they ease back into their stride with rare and striking confidence (see also our gigs of the year, and indeed our singles of the year). To be honest, we think this is their best album. If it had come out earlier in the year, we might even have written more than three sentences about it…   --In Love With These Times, In Spite Of These Times (Albums of the Year)
Seventeen years after their last release, the Popguns reunion results in a new album. And it is everything you would expect from the legendary English outfit – catchy hooks, clever lyrics delivered with power and precision by vocalist Wendy Pickles (née Morgan). This album is the reason I delayed with this list – it was only released in early December.   --Music Emissions (Best of 2014)
I have finally got around to listening to the new album from The Popguns and like the recent single ‘Lovejunky’ there are no real surprises here in comparison to their previous ouput – their last album ‘A Plus de Cent’ came out in 1996. However when that is all done and said it’s a thoroughly enjoyable listen and isn’t that what it is all about? The aforementioned single is a highlight as is ‘Still Waiting For The Winter’ which harks back to a certain single from 1989. Only on ‘Not Your Night Tonight’ does that pace take a few step backs from the fast entwined guitars. One for your Christmas stocking…………   --Records I Like
Précédé d’un single sorti durant l’automne (Lovejunky), le retour de The Popguns - 18 ans après A Plus de Cent - se concrétise en cette fin d’année par la sortie d’un tout nouvel album. Un disque qui passera sans doute relativement inaperçu. Et c’est bien dommage… (On ne s’ennuie pas une seconde. Vraiment. Et Wendy Morgan y chante à merveille.)   --At The Indie Disco
Formés en 1986 à Brighton et auteurs d'une poignée de disques aussi admirables que méconnus, The Popguns font partie de ces groupes pop de second plan, valeureux combattants injustement oubliés par l'histoire. Pourtant, comme en atteste le vif engouement suscité par les annonces successives du tout premier concert parisien de la bande en début d'année, puis de la sortie d'un nouveau single ("Lovejunky") en septembre dernier, les Anglais savent toujours faire battre le cœur de leurs admirateurs. Mis en sommeil depuis 1996 et l'album "A Plus de Cent", le groupe renaît enfin de ses cendres, soutenu dans sa démarche par le label Matinée, gage de qualité s'il en est. Urgent, mélodiquement imparable, "Pop Fiction" aligne sans s'essouffler dix nouveaux titres et autant de petits tubes en puissance. D'un astucieux clin d’œil à ses lointaines heures de gloire ("Still Waiting for the Winter" et ses voix joliment entrelacées, en référence au single "Waiting for the Winter", paru en 1989) à un hommage teinté de romantisme à l'unimaginably cool Chet Baker ("Alfa Romeo", pop song idéalement carénée), Wendy et ses compagnons prouvent qu'ils n'ont absolument rien à envier à tous leurs descendants de la scène indiepop. L'incroyable tenue de l'affaire porte même à croire que ce come-back gagnant ne fait qu'annoncer le début d'une nouvelle aventure savoureuse. Remercions donc The Popguns, qui réalisent encore une fois nos rêves, en écrivant sous nos yeux une nouvelle page de "Pop Fiction".   --PopNews
Poco da fare, il guitar-pop con voce femminile è quanto di più delizioso possa arrivare alle nostre orecchie. Se poi è veicolato dalle sapienti mani della Matinée, beh, allora già sappiamo che tutto andrà alla perfezione. In questo caso parliamo di un gruppo storico che ritorna a deliziarci con le sue melodie pulite e lineari, in un mondo perfetto dove power-pop, carezze melodiche, Blondie, Primitives ed Echobelly si ritrovano nel paradiso delle meraviglie sonore. Un paradiso dove, a dire il vero, i toni vengono piacevolmente ammorbiditi e, contrariamente a quanto ci faceva pensare il singolo Lovejunky, si punta di più al suono senza spigoli, jangly e anche leggero e carezzevole, ma che, in ogni caso, sappia brillare di luce propria al momento del ritornello da mandare a memoria. City Lights è quasi epica nella sua apertura ariosa e la doppietta If You Ever Change Your Mind/Lovejunky tiene bello alto il ritmo. Non inventano niente i The Popguns, ma mettono in campo le loro armi migliori per farci sognare, per farci cullare da una dolcissima melodia e da arpeggi iperclassici, come in Still Waiting For The Winter, per non parlare della spensieratezza pop di Alfa Romeo, vero e proprio gioiello del disco. Out Of Sight e Not Your Night Tonight mostrano il lato più romantico e fragile del gruppo: i toni si abbassano ed emergono anche le ombre, non solo le luci. Something Going On ha un taglio che ci ricorda il passato storico del gruppo, graffiando nel punto giusto, mentre il bel chitarrone di I'll See You Later ci piace assai. Cosa vuoi dire se non "mitico ritorno!"?   --Troublezine
Con eso de que el indie-pop vuelve a estar de moda, en los últimos años hemos vivido unos cuantos comebacks realmente inesperados. El último es del de The Popguns, que no se comieron un colín (como Ana Torroja) a principio de los noventa, ni se lo van a comer ahora, casi veinte años después de su separación. Esto es algo que, a los que nos va este tipo de música, ya estamos acostumbrados, pero no estaría mal que, de vez en cuando, alguna de estas bandas tuvieran un poco más de suerte. The Popguns se lo merecen, han hecho un gran disco de pop de guitarras, pero el álbum lleva en la calle desde el 1 de diciembre, y son muy pocos los medios que han sacado una reseña de él. Los Popguns de los primeros noventa eran un poco más ruidosos que estos, y tiraban más hacia los Primitives anteriores a Crash, esos de los que Morrissey era un gran seguidor. Sus guitarras eran más ruidosas, y dejaban ver un poco más de oscuridad en sus canciones. De eso encontramos algo en este nuevo trabajo, pero no es lo que más abunda. Los dos mejores ejemplos de esto son Something Going On y en I’ll See You Later, que aparecen al final del disco, y no dejan muy buenas sensaciones. Y es que, están mucho más acertados cuando rebajan el nivel guitarrero, y se ponen mucho más pop. Es el caso de City Lights e If You Ever Change Your Mind, que abren el disco de una forma maravillosa. Por no hablar de Lovejunky, el primer single, y la primera muestra de que han puesto rumbo hacia el pop que practican bandas como Allo Darlin’ o Camera Obscura. Algo de lo que dan buena muestra en en Still Waiting For The Winter y en la preciosa Alfa Romeo, que está inspirada en Chet Baker, y en una romántica imagen del trompetista paseando en su Alfa Romeo por los bulevares de San Francisco, Roma y París. Una delicia. Uno de los puntos fuertes de The Popguns, es la voz clara e intensa de Wendy Morgan, que encaja a la perfección con los temas más tranquilos del álbum. Ahí están Out Of Sight y Not Your Night Tonight, tan melancólicas e invernales, con las que consiguen que te pongas de lo más tierno. Y es que, gran parte del álbum, tiene un tono tristón y melancólico. Vamos, que la portada tan bonita le viene como anillo al dedo. Algo que no creo que sea casualidad. Sí, ya sé que ahora no apetece mucho atender a las novedades, y que todo el mundo está con los dichosos resúmenes del año, pero este disco merece mucho la pena, y os recomiendo que le deis un par de escuchas.   --Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
The Popguns fueron uno de los muchos grupos británicos que nos enseñaron que el pop de guitarras también podía ser bonito. En los escasos años que duró su carrera en los noventa, sacaron cuatro discos que no tenían nada que envidiar a los de sus compañeros de generación que tuvieron más reconocimiento (me vienen a la cabeza Echobelly). Pero ya se sabe, unos tienen más suerte que otros. Casi veinte años después, vuelven con nuevas canciones y fuerzas renovadas. Que este tipo de pop esté de más actualidad que nunca les ha animado a probar suerte de nuevo. Y han hecho bien, ya que su nuevo trabajo cuenta con toda la fuerza que mostraban en los primeros noventa, y en él nos encontramos con una preciosa colección de canciones. La primera impresión que nos deja “Pop Fiction” es que estamos ante unos The Popguns más relajados y menos ruidosos. Incluso se podría decir que están un poco más melancólicos. Sus nuevas canciones tiran más hacia bandas como Allo Darlin’ o Camera Obscura, y ya no recuerdan tanto a The Primitives. Sí es cierto que hay cortes en los que las guitarras siguen rugiendo, como en ‘City Lights’ o en ‘If You Ever Change Your Mind’, las dos pequeñas joyas con las que abren el álbum, pero la melancolía siempre está presente. Se la quitan un poco de encima en ‘Lovejunky’, que para eso es el primer single y todo un himno de pop guitarrero. También se ponen un poco más duros en ‘Something Going On’ y en ‘I’ll See You Later’, los dos temas con los que cierran el disco, que también son los dos cortes menos acertados del álbum. La voz de Wendy Morgan es perfecta para cantar estas canciones de pop invernal, y se fusiona de maravilla con las guitarras cristalinas. Lo demuestran en cortes como ‘Still Waiting for the Winter’ o ‘Alfa Romeo’, que son deliciosas. Por no hablar de lo bien que encaja en una delicada balada como ‘Not Your Night Tonight’, que es una preciosidad. Es muy probable que esta vuelta de The Popguns no ocupe los titulares de los grandes medios, pero merece la pena hacerse con una copia de este trabajo y darse el gustazo de disfrutar de buen pop.   --Indienauta
En ren och skär njutning av enkel och rak pop. Tio popdängor på ett bräde; vacker sång med bra texter, kompat av skeva gitarrer och fina melodier. Tight rakt igenom och det känns inte som att de haft uppehåll i runda slängar 20år. Släpptes i december och den tog mig med till första platsen.   --Listmakarna
Mentre in tanti nel mondo indie hanno (ri)scoperto negli ultimi tempi il guitar-pop britannico tra anni Ottanta e Novanta, capita ormai con una certa frequenza che qualcuno degli originari protagonisti di quel periodo torni a imbracciare gli strumenti per troppo tempo lasciati a prender polvere, cimentandosi di nuovo nella ricerca della perfetta canzone pop, attività che non si dimentica mai completamente, un po’ come andare in bicicletta… A riprendere a pedalare, seguendo la medesima scia ad esempio di Vaselines e Proctors, tocca adesso ai Popguns, band formatasi a Brighton alla fine degli anni Ottanta, che aveva interrotto le proprie pubblicazioni nel 1996 con all’attivo tre album e una lunga serie di singoli. La band si è riformata due anni fa, con quattro dei cinque membri originari, un nuovo batterista e una seconda voce femminile a supportare quella della cantante Wendy Morgan. Le dieci canzoni di “Pop Fiction”, precedute dal singolo “Lovejunky”, rappresentano il primo frutto della seconda giovinezza dei Popguns, per i quali davvero sembra che il tempo non sia passato: l’associazione di melodie dolci e sognanti con una miscela di chitarre e ritmiche vivaci ma anche imbevute di languori agrodolci è una formula che non conosce decadimento temporale, evidentemente connaturata all’indole di musicisti pur ormai distanti dai propri vent’anni. Quell’indole permane immutata nella carrellata di canzoni che si apre con la spiccata consistenza elettrica di “City Lights”, con il passo sbarazzino di “If You Ever Change Your Mind” e quello l’incalzante del singolo “Lovejunky”. Anche in questi distillati di solare immediatezza si affaccia tuttavia qualche nube, come a dire che l’essenza del pop continua a non essere soltanto quella romantica di spensierate corse in “Alfa Romeo” o quella scatenata da guitar-pop retrò di “Leaning On The Backline”. Sono anzi i brani più riflessivi e malinconici quali “Still Waiting For The Winter” e “Out Of Sight” a esaltare la ritrovata vena dei cresciuti ragazzi di Brighton, a testimonianza di come il trascorrere del tempo non ne abbia scalfito la capacità di scrivere melodie scorrevoli né quell’equilibrata miscela di dolcezza sognante e inquietudine post-adolescenziale che continua a costituire premessa fondamentale di ogni canzone pop che si rispetti, oggi come un quarto di secolo fa. The Popguns l’hanno ritrovata dopo tanto tempo e in “Pop Fiction” la ripropongono, filtrata dalla maturità ma animata dallo stesso spirito inalterato.   --Music Won't Save You
Il existe des choses sur lesquelles le temps n'a aucune emprise. La musique des Popguns semble en faire partie. Cinquième album des Britanniques, Pop Fiction nous gratifie non seulement de riffs jangly et de mélodies imparables mais surtout, avec Still Waiting For The Winter, d'une «suite» géniale au plus gros succès du groupe.   --Tweendie
“Que discaço este Pop Fiction!”, pensei comigo. “The Popguns deve ser coisa nova, será que é a estreia deles?”, raciocinei em seguida. Pois qual não foi minha surpresa ao descobrir que a banda britânica é uma veterana com quase três décadas de estrada, parte da turma jangle pop com vocal feminino (Primitives, Bangles, Darling Buds, Sundays) que deliciou ouvidos na segunda metade dos anos 80. Pop Fiction, lançado em dezembro, é o primeiro álbum do grupo em 18 anos e crepita de frescor e docilidade, como se o grupo tivesse se formado ontem.   --Orelhada