On their second albumFortuna, Popstrangers plot their movements according to the sounds of 1980s British indie pop, and actually do so with more conviction than any British band in recent memory.
That indie pop movement looked past the prevalence of post-punk and took cues from ’60s girl groups and the smartsy New York underground. The New Zealand four-piece follows suit and makes the trip sound effortless.
Fortuna is a melodically eloquent sojourn through guitar pop, but there are leavening portions of dissonance and nervous tension. ‘Sandstorm’ starts off sensible and academic, only to widen into a paisley-shirted chorus. ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ confronts with a Swans-like guitar grunt before exhaling into a chord-ringing refrain. Lead single ‘Country Kills’ is as oddly angular as Morrissey’s jawline and features the apt chorus hook, “Oh my country will kill me now / Well, whatever”.
Generally speaking, the record’s lyrical interests don’t jump out as prescient dissections of the zeitgeist. Instead, the vocals comfortably entwine with the roomy arrangements.
Fortuna mightn’t be bold enough to inspire a movement of its own, but it is a well-studied exercise in reprisal – and a stimulating one at that.
Fortuna is out now through Spunk.