Listening to Pom Poko is like going cross-country skiing with your nice cousin and you end up hanging with her sketchy friends, listening to Motorhead, and drinking homemade lingonberry wine. You might not make it home for supper. The jazz-trained Norwegians put out one of the better (and too overlooked) albums of 2021 with Cheater. Now we get the pleasant surprise of this four song EP.
The wonderfully named Ragnhild Fangel’s helium vocals float above above Martin Tonne’s raucous guitar. The rhythm section of Ola Djupvik (drums) and Jonas Krovel (bass) is not messing around, although it often sounds like they are. The band cites venerable San Francisco noise pop experimentalists Deerhoof as inspiration and proudly displays that affinity. When Pom Poko really click, the sound is a potent brew that can make the listener giddy. Listen to “Curly Romance” on Cheater to hear what I’m talking about.
These four songs are a good introduction to the band for the unfamiliar and a treat for fans. The band has touted it on their label’s (Bella Union) website as a “kind of a demonstration of all the different identities we feel Pom Poko can have.” It is a compact 13-minute package that does just that. I was going to say “tidy,” but Pom Poko is messy as hell.
The second and third songs, ‘Time’ and ‘Our House’ are directly out of the Pom Poko playbook: shambolic guitars, careening drums and Fangel’s distinctive angular lilt.
‘Our House’ is madness. Fangel repeats the same lyric, “Is this our house / Is this our house / This is our house”, as the band gives you a tour. You’d like to spend the night, but you wouldn’t get much sleep.
These two songs are bookended by opener ‘Enduro Corner’, named after a landmark on fellow weirdo Alex Honnold’s ropeless route up Yosemite’s El Capitan.
It sounds like a new adventure for the band. Dare I say it sounds… pretty? The closer, ‘Sonatina’ is a little gem of Scandinavian off-kilter folk, complete with bird calls. Is this the
I’m excited to see what else Pom Poko gets up to. In my dreams, they tour with Shitkid and the Swedes and Norwegians come together in a blizzard of blissful noise.
Words by Rick Larson