BY MICHAEL TOLAND
In the race to field the biggest gap between new records, the Pop Group may have everybody else beat: it’s been 35 years since the release of its LP We Are Time (recently reissued and covered here). It goes without saying that Citizen Zombie won’t sound exactly like the influential postpunk band did in its late 70s glory – too much time has passed for that. Yet in its own way, the LP picks up where the Group left off – like the Clash’s Combat Rock, it represents a musical evolution while keeping the same spirit.
The band’s whiplash blend of punk and funk tones itself down to a feel more than a form here – when the wriggling head of serious groove rears itself, as on “Shadow Child” and “Mad Truth,” the abrasion comes from Mark Stewart’s raspy blurts, rather than clashing musical styles. Elsewhere, “Nations” puts a sociopolitical treatise to a minimalist drum machine/guitar clang track, “The Immaculate Deception” and “St. Outrageous” essay psychedelic rant rock and “Nowhere Girl” goes for lush balladry – or as close as the Pop Group will ever come (and that’s not very close). “Box 9” is probably the nearest to being “traditional” postpunk (if there is such a thing), with its frisky-bassed rhythm, abstract riffing and nutjob singing, but what fun would it be if the band stayed comfortably in its wheelhouse?
Citizen Zombie resurrects a band that’s still evolving, rather than a nostalgia act, and is all the better for it.
DOWNLOAD: “Mad Truth,” “St. Outrageous” “Nowhere Girl”