When the kindie rock duo The Pop Ups released its album Appetite For Construction last year, it released an album that was one of the year’s best new children’s albums. That is because it was one of the most creative both in regards to its musical and lyrical content. Now a little more than a year after the record’s release–the pair’s third full-length studio offering–Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein have followed it up with what is some of its best work to date in its fourth full-length recording Great Pretenders Club. This record is *pardon the bad pun* proof that The Pop Ups are no pretenders. Rather the pair has proven with this record that it is the real deal. Over the course of its eleven tracks and thirty-eight minutes, Rabinowitz and Stein show that they have re-invented themselves yet again all while maintaining some sense of their previous records. This applies largely to the record’s musical content. In regards to the record’s lyrical content that is just as family friendly as ever. As important as both elements are to the whole of this record, the sequencing of the songs is just as important to the album’s overall presentation as the songs’ content. The combination of all three elements makes Great Pretender’s Club a record that is a real contender for a spot on this year’s list of the best new children’s albums once again.
The Pop Ups’ new full-length studio recording Great Pretender’s Club is a real candidate for a spot on the list for this year’s best new children’s album. There is a number of reasons that this is the case. The central reason for its success is its musical content. Throughout the course of the record’s eleven songs and thirty-eight minutes Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein show time and again that they have re-invented their sound once again all without losing the elements that made their previous albums so entertaining. The 80s sound that served as the foundation for 2014’s Appetite For Construction is included once again here. But it is far less prevalent in this record than its predecessor. The only place in which that sound is truly evident is in the synth-driven ‘Googly Eyes.’ There are just as many elements of the pair’s 2011 debut album Outside Voices and its followup, 2012’s Radio Jungle throughout the rest of the record beginning with the infectious danceable vibes of the album’s opener ‘Pretend We Forget’ and ‘We Live in An Orchestra.’ The more airy, indie rock sound of ‘On Air’ is just as entertaining as is the R&B-influenced ‘Bird & Rhino’ and the upbeat rocker that is ‘Treasure Hunter.’ Those that are familiar with The Pop Ups’ body of work so far will even catch the band’s throwback to its previous albums in the semi-reggae-infused ‘Stuff.’ These are just a handful of examples of how the musical content exhibited throughout Great Pretenders Club makes it an impressive new release. That is not to take anything away from any of the songs not noted here. All eleven songs show in their own right just how enjoyable Great Pretenders Club is for listeners. Collectively they are plenty of proof in the argument for the album’s place in the list of this year’s best new children’s albums. They are just one reason that this record proves so impressive, too. The lyrical content put on display throughout each of the record’s songs is even more proof in that argument.
The musical content put on display over the course of The Pop Ups’ new album is plenty of proof in itself why this latest offering from the kindie rock duo is deserving yet again of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums. That is because it shows the pair doesn’t rest easy on its laurels. It takes the best elements of its predecessors and mixes them into a wholly new record here. It is just one reason that this album proves so enjoyable, too. The lyrical content exhibited throughout the course of the record’s near forty-minute run time is just as important to note in the album’s enjoyment as its musical content. In the simply titled ‘Bird & Rhino’ Rabinowitz and Stein in fact present the story of a bird and a rhinoceros that are best friends. On the surface, it’s just a fun story about a bird and a rhino. On a deeper level, it is a basic biology lesson about animal symbiosis. It also plays on the legend about rhinos stamping out fires. To this day there is no real proof of rhinos’ tendency to stamp out fires. It is just a fun little tale. And The Pop Ups have made it even more fun here. Audiences can hear the song for themselves right now and even see the song’s companion video via The Pop Ups’ official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thepopups. It’s just one example of how the lyrical content exhibited throughout this record makes it enjoyable. The upbeat indie-rock tune ‘Treasure Hunter’ is another example of how Great Pretenders proves to be the real deal. It comes from the vantage point of a young child using his or her imagination as he or she hunts for “treasure.” The treasure in question doesn’t even have to be gold. As the pair sings in the song’s second verse, “I drew a map/To help you find your keys/You’re gonna find it when you find it/You’re gonna find it when you look right under your keys/I took your hat/Hid it underneath the stairs/You’re gonna find it when you find it/You’re gonna find it when you go to get some extra chairs.” It celebrates the joys of a child’s innocence in just this one way. It could even be argued that it encourages parents to spend time with their kids being treasure hunters with them, building that all too important family bond. The simply titled, infectious ‘Indoor Picnic’ is one more example of how Great Pretenders Club’s lyrical content makes it just as enjoyable as its musical content. Rabinowitz and Stein sing here about children using their imaginations to make…well…an indoor picnic. The pair sings about using their imaginations and that they don’t necessarily have to use real food for said picnic. Of course, it could serve as the catalyst for parents and children taking something bad such as a rainy day and making it great by in fact having a real indoor picnic. It’s one more way in which the song’s lyrical content not only promotes the use of a child’s imagination but the interaction of children and their parents. If for no reason other than that of encouraging parents and children to spend time together, the song’s lyrical content shows why it is just as important to the song as its musical content. It is hardly the last example of how the album’s lyrical content overall plays an important role in the album’s success. There are eight other songs presented here that could show just as much the importance of the album’s lyrical content to its success. Whether for those songs or for the ones directly noted here, it can be said of all eleven songs that their combined lyrical content works hand in hand with their musical content to make a completely clear argument in favor of the album’s placement on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.
Both the musical and lyrical content displayed over the course of Great Pretenders Club is more than enough reason for this album earning a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums. For all of the importance that both elements exhibit, they are hardly the only elements that make this album so enjoyable. The sequencing of the featured songs is just as important to the album as their musical and lyrical content. As audiences will note from start to finish the songs’ different sounds change from one song to the next. But through it all, the album never once loses its listeners. It all opens with the infectious vibes of ‘Pretend We Forgot’ before moving on to the equally danceable ‘We Live in an Orchestra.’ The EDM style sound of ‘On Air’ and 80s-influenced ‘Googly Eyes’ are as different as can be stylistically speaking. But the energy exuded by both songs is just enough to keep listeners engaged regardless. ‘Indoor Picnic’ is just as infectious with its upbeat pop rock sound. The funk style sound in ‘Bird & Rhino’ is just as certain to keep listeners engaged, even in its tamer moments. The songs noted here represent just the first half of Great Pretenders Club. The album’s remaining five compositions will each keep listeners’ ears just as much as those that make up the first half of the album. All things considered, the sequencing of this record’s songs coupled with the songs’ musical and lyrical content makes the album in whole one that is, again, a clear candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.
The Pop Ups’ latest full-length studio offering Great Pretender’s Club is an aptly titled collection of songs. That is because it shows that this kindie rock band is anything but a pretender. It is in fact that real deal in the world of children’s music. It proves this through music that despite throwing back to all three of its previous albums, is completely original from beginning to end. The album’s lyrical content is just as original. It strays in large part from the standard material presented in so many children’s albums. And the sequencing of the album’s songs solidifies the album, ensuring listeners’ engagement from beginning to end. Each element in its own right plays its own important part in the album’s overall presentation. In whole, all three elements make this record a presentation that is just as much the real deal as the musicians that crafted and recorded it. Great Pretenders Club is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded direct via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0159HEDVK?ref=dmm_sm_fb_92515_pua_ald. More information on Great Pretenders Club is available online now along with The Pop Ups’ latest news at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.