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Fortuna, the second full length from New Zealand trio Popstrangers, trades the grunge revivalism of the band's previous releases for buoyant hooks and '60s pop. Pairing their minor-key riffs with pervasively melancholic songwriting, the band's refined sense of melody is on full display on Fortuna, which echoes the classic guitar pop of their homeland's Flying Nun Records.
Recorded over five days in London, Popstrangers' warped tales of infatuation and aggression are anchored by Joel Flyger's tactile vocals, which steep in subterranean effects before ripping clean through the album's choruses. The band's pop sensibilities are at their best on standout "Country Kills," where Flyger shrugs off his looming demise with a wink and an indelible riff. "My country will kill me now, but whatever." The band is quick to tamper Fortuna's catchy strains with atonal guitars and a nervous pace, the record's building sense of anxiety concluding with the psych comedown of "What's On Your Mind?"
Eschewing the squalling guitars that propelled their debut album Antipodes for clear-headed production and lush choruses, Popstrangers hit their stride on Fortuna, crystallizing their influences into a succinct record of indie psych that never lingers too long.
Popstrangers are Joel Flyger, Adam Page and David Larson; three native New Zealanders who make “pop” music that is hard-driving, punk-influenced, and sonically inimitable.
The band formed in 2009, after the three members connected over their shared histories of bad day jobs, stints in other bands, and most importantly, their desire to create music with like-minded people. With a name conceived minutes before their first official show, Popstrangers’ ambitions have grown since their days of playing local gigs around Auckland. They have developed a strong following in their native New Zealand for their heavy yet accessible sound, and are set to export their noisy melodies to the rest of the world. Popstrangers has released two well-received EPs and a full-length, Antipodes, which houses their lauded single “Heaven.”
2. Don't Be Afraid
4. Country Kills
9. Right Babies
10. What's On Your Mind