Poptropicaslutz! Set The Standard With Debut Album 'Face For The Radio'
New York Gen Z duo poptropicaslutz!, comprising of members Christian Cicilia and Nick Crawford, have truly outdone themselves with the release of their debut album Face For The Radio. Fusing a myriad of their influences, from Y2K pop stardom to indie sleaze to pop-punk to the heyday of the SoundCloud rap era, they've alchemized eleven sonically rich, textured tracks that demand listeners' attention from start to finish. The record's production flourishes with the aid of aldrch and kodeblooded (Connor Kaufmann, Sueco), leading with fuzzed-out guitars and a sprinkling of pop synths to buoy their sugary melodies and emphatic rhythms.
Face For The Radio kicks off with the chameleonic "Fallin' Apart in Halftime." The tangled chaos of the music, combined with the glitchiness of the lyrics, makes for an intriguing opening, one that makes it hard to pull away from. Lyrics like "He fancies martinis and infidelity / So she'll go out and dance-dance / 'Cause shit just hit the fan, fan again" paints a scene of a woman ditching her scandal-filled relationship and escaping to the dancefloor in an attempt to rid herself of her worries.
"What Would You Do To Get Ahead(line)?" is a fresh take on Y2K nostalgia, with cutting-edge production serving as a cheeky commentary on society's ongoing popularity contest. "What Would You Do To Get Ahead(line)?" is reminiscent of the neon pop-punk stylings of acts like Cobra Starship and Metro Station, with a rumbling bassline leading the way and weaving in and out of pulsating synths. Co-vocalist Nick Crawford introduces the band as "the gossip team," which is perhaps a reference to the record he and bandmate Christian Cicilia made with their friend, labelmate, and producer aldrch, and urges listeners to "Give us your whispers, give us the word of mouth / We're on the front page / I'm sure you've heard about it / The needle to the vein / Now you can't live without it."
Further down the record, listeners are met with the textural and sonically mature "True Colors." A sense of denial comes with saying goodbye to someone you've been so close to, and the steps you take to make the change can feel daunting. There's a particular charm present that shows off what the duo does best—writing complex and dynamic pop songs best visualized as colorful mosaic paintings of sound. Produced by sonic maximalist kodeblooded, the song explores a relationship's highs and lows that have taken a turn for the worse.
"Sierra Echo X-Ray," or you can shorthand it using the military phonetic alphabet to "S-E-X," thematically focuses on intimacy and romance while iridescent soundscapes and pounding synths hook the listener in for its short yet intoxicating run.With auto-tuned vocals and playful pop melodies, Cicilia and Crawford tell a witty coming-of-age story while trading sincere lines about the naiveties of navigating intimate relationships for the first time.
The album's closer, "A Flair For Conclusions, Yet She'll Never Be Swan Queen," is a shining example of poptropicalslutz!'s most impressive lyric writing to date. In one breath, Crawford quickly stammers out a story detailing the end of a relationship where it all collapses in one fatal conversation as piano keys twinkle alongside aching violin strings. The rich imagery painted in the song, featuring "slanderous speech bubbles," is effectively used to crash through the reality of a breakup. Crescendos of guitar riffs, thrumming bass, and crashing percussion boil over into an angsty pool of sound that drags listeners down into its darkest depths, closing with the melancholy sound of scattered arpeggiated piano.
Sonically and thematically, Face For The Radio sees poptropicalslutz! at their most cohesive and daring yet. The band muses, "Having a 'face for the radio' has historically described those better fit for something else….those set up for success, but not in their own lane. At times, that's been us, but not anymore."
Listen to Face For The Radio below: