Pop Art Toasters – Pop Art Toasters (Flying Nun, 1994)

Pop Art Toasters
Pop Art Toasters

CD Flying Nun Records FNCD288 (New Zealand, 1994)

01. What Am I Going to Do
02. Everyone’s Gonna Wonder
03. I Won’t Hurt You
04. Go Ahead
05. Circles

Recorded at Fish Street Studios, Dunedin, Aotearoa, December 1993
Songs originally recorded by:
1 The Dovers (USA)
2 The Avengers (NZ)
3 The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (USA)
4 The Squires (USA)
5 The Who (UK)

The Pop Art Toasters were a « Dunedin Sound » supergroup of sorts, bringing together legendary figures Martin Phillipps of The Chills and David Kilgour of The Clean as well as three other Dunedin-based musicians. However, unlike your average supergroup that records an album, goes on tour, sells on the weight of the combined fanbases, and is remembered for either being very, very good or very, very bad, the Pop Art Toasters were destined for obscurity. Their sole release was this five-song EP, consisting solely of covers of obscure sixties pop songs. Phillipps and Kilgour have reportedly spoken about doing another Pop Art Toasters release, but nothing has come of this – surely at least in part due to Phillipps’ poor health in the latter half of the nineties and Kilgour’s pursuit of his solo career overseas.
What drew me to this release is the fact that the second track, Everyone’s Gonna Wonder, is a cover of the debut single by a band in which my uncle performed, The Avengers. The Avengers (not the TV show or seventies punk band!), although unknown internationally, had a string of top ten hits in New Zealand in the late sixties, and the Pop Art Toasters do justice to their legacy. I must say there’s a thrill in discovering that two of your musical heroes, Phillipps and Kilgour, have covered a song by the band of your family member. The best part for me is that Everyone’s Gonna Wonder is probably the best song on the EP; it is a fantastic and catchy upbeat number with beautiful singing and appropriate mixing on the vocals. Essentially, it is good sixties pop put through the Dunedin Sound machine, and that same description holds true for the rest of the EP.
Four of the songs are uptempo numbers and work very effectively. The final song, Circles, is a cover of The Who and is a more punkish, rocking offering than the other tracks, ending the EP with a direct intensity. The opening track, What Am I Going To Do originally by The Dovers, has a more cheerful and pop-y style, much like the fourth track, Go Ahead. I haven’t a clue who originally performed Go Ahead, but whoever did has certainly been done justice by the Pop Art Toasters as they juxtapose a rather negative chorus of « go ahead and break my heart, go ahead and tear it apart » with upbeat music that makes you want to tap your foot and hum along with the song. This provides an added degree of interest to the song and makes it the best song on the EP after Everyone’s Gonna Wonder.
The one song I’m yet to mention, I Won’t Hurt You by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, is stylistically very different to the rest of the EP, and by being placed right in the middle of the tracklisting at third, it provides a strong contrast and a welcome change of pace, removing any chance of « sameness » over the EP’s short duration. For this song, the Pop Art Toasters go for a soft, contemplative, atmospheric sound – somewhat along the lines of The Chills’ softer numbers. This style seems to extend the track, giving it a depth and breadth that makes it feel longer and more substantial than its length of 2:44 would imply. And that’s one thing about this EP: it’s very short. The songs are all in the 2-3 minute range, with Everyone’s Gonna Wonder the longest at 2:46. This lack of length leaves you craving more of the Pop Art Toasters’ beautifully crafted goodness; rest assured you will be hitting the repeat button in a vain attempt to turn this brief EP into a substantial album.
(Axver @ Rate Your Music)

Les amoureux de Flying Nun vont fondre comme d’habitude (on est à la maison).

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