Pope Joan - Dictator

Owain Paciuszko 31/03/2010

Rating: 3/5

Sammy Aaron Jr's vocal on this single from Brighton post-punk-pop act Pope Joan seems to mate The Cure's Robert Smith with The Clash's Mick Jones, through an eighties filter of sheen and polish. The track itself is a synthy slab of pop that swaggers angstily and optimistically in a mold that's a bit too often used at present, and can't help but taste a little sour from the residue of better jellies (was that metaphor stretched too far?).

B-side Mattias fares much better, it's got a crunchy, electro bass line driving the track with a filthy Carnival beat, and Aaron Jr's vocal howls and hollers with a sort of Nick Cave-esque storyteller charm, meanwhile guitars rattle and squeal with sinister abandon and the track, as a whole, marries a certain pop sensibility with more experimental New Wave stylings quite superbly.

Swap these tracks around and you've got a great single followed by a poor B-Side, but, as is, it's a case of the safe bet being played to a disappointing outcome, but a pleasant surprise in the follow-up that suggests this band, perhaps, shouldn't be written off.