ver get the feeling you’ve been duped? For all of the writing, thinking, theorizing, cocaine, bitching, and music that’s been done in the name of electroclash, there’s hardly a compilation that illustrates the genre’s actual worth. Consider this one your trump card.
I mean it had to come from a German, didn’t it? A few thousands miles away, a few years removed, a few more hooks, a few less ideas (I’m looking at you, Felix). Rother has benefited from all this, honing and perfecting the tunes that push Pop Killer over the top from great electroclash into great music.
It begins with a questioning hook, with Rother singing the words “Life is wonderful.” Are we to believe him? Have we been, again, duped by the dripping irony that infects the post/meta genre, rendering it all but useless? Nope. Rother is actually that happy to be here. Witness “Father”, the next track, wherein Rother mixes a buoyant electro beat and a suitably wavering bassline, with a languidly unfolding synth melody on top. It’s a joyous proposition that comes off marvelously, especially with the addition of another drum pattern beneath the surface to provide extra propulsion. “Back Home” follows the same template, following “Father” gracefully with buzzing bass and a deceptively simple melody. The hidden drums make a more pronounced appearance during the bridge here, unearthing their potent power for closer scrutiny.
“Age” is straight up electro, without any pretensions towards the clash. It glides along effortlessly with its unstoppable counterpoint melody combination proving, once more, that Rother knows when to just let the groove take the listener. It’s on “10,000 Dancer”, though, that the Rother unleashes the fury. The song, at more than eight minutes, is the album’s lengthiest, but it’s that way for a reason: it’s also the best tune. Couple the infectious melody with an innate sense of dynamics and tension and you may just have yourself the best electro song of 2004.
The one criticism that could be leveled at Pop Killer is also its saving grace. The album’s sonic template is frustratingly/thankfully limited. Rother uses a certain amount of keyboard sounds to create his melodies and basslines that, if you’ve never had an introduction to them before, could be hard to swallow upon first listen. But, at the same time, his unwillingness to waver from his successful formula is a sign of strength in the wake of Felix da Housecat’s last album, which suffered from its schizophrenia. By taking these sounds to their limits, he exhibits their incredible versatility.
All in all, Pop Killer succeeds for one reason: it never set out to be electroclash. But, since these sounds are Rother’s trade, when he chooses to make pop music it comes out sounding like the much derided genre. And, unconsciously, it comes off as one of the most satisfying albums to use these tools in the genre’s history. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you missed out on this album because of its genre designation. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you missed out on Pop Killer, in general.