A quiet coastal town situated in West Ayrshire, it’s a place you’ve probably heard of if you’re a fan of golf, with it not only having the Royal Troon Golf Course, which occasionally hosts the Open Championship, but it’s the birthplace of Colin Montgomerie; one of the most successful to ever swing a golf club. Other than that? Well...aside from a couple of footballers, it’s fair to say that it’s not exactly a place that comes to mind about...anything. Especially music. Can today’s band change that?
Let me introduce you to POPPING666CHERRIES. Now before we even press play, we have to address this name...we all know that’s there’s a certain sense of edgier appeal in this sort of thing; just look at the likes of ADOLF SATAN, or the majestically titled ANAL CUNT, but they roll off the tongue a lot easier. Merely SAYING Popping666Cherries, is frankly just as hard, as finding the 666 virgins on a Scottish council estate to begin with. Speaking of council estates...the cover art for their latest EP “Heaven & Hell” looks so bleak and desolate it makes Mad Max’s own dystopian post-apocalypse look like a day out in fucking Disneyland. I’m sure Crosbie Church and cemetery would have made for a far happier visual. Nevertheless, we have music to check out, and, they did ask nicely.
The EP opens up with “Family Ties” and, musically this isn’t what I was expecting truth be told. It’s got quite a light, almost bubbly electronic aesthetic...it sounds like it’s been plucked right out of that, early, proto-goth experimental era, combining the likes of NEW ORDER with the most subtle of industrial underlays. It’s honestly not unpleasant, until we get to vocalist Gwen Smith, that is. Her vocals are at such a juxtaposition here with the music it takes you a minute to let it sink in. Her incredibly gruff, almost spoken-word delivery does little but clash with the up-beat instrumentation and it’s bordering on off-putting, but we’ll see where this goes.
We follow this with arguably the EP’s two strongest offerings; “Candyman” and “GSquad”. The former, while realistically drawn out at just shy of five minutes, musically, does make good use of those 80’s post-punk influences, and its strength is in Its simplicity. The rhythm here, coupled with the sharper electronic notes and indie-based guitar style is, instrumentally at least, quite catchy and could be utilised for a much better track. The latter then, takes those post-punk ideologies and indulges further in the darker, bass-rich soundscapes of say, SISTERS OF MERCY and again, could genuinely lay the foundations for a really good gothic-rock track. Sadly, it’s front-woman Gwen here who let’s everything down. I mean, in terms of her performance, it’s hard to put a finger on it. Imagine, like, hooking up an 8-Track cassette recorder directly to one of Lemmy’s lungs following his 1,000th Marlboro of the morning, while using South Park’s Ned Gerblansky as inspiration tonally, and instead of using an actual recording booth, it’s a sewer.
The last two tracks then sadly act as nothing more than filler. “Over The Edge” does have its almost, 69 EYES inspired guitar tones from their formative gothic-rock years, think, “Framed In Blood” era, while closing track then “Fire And Desire” houses a much darker, blackened aesthetic when it gets going, which cushions the more lust-fuelled, almost seductively sacrificial, very sexual lyrics. There’s a strong BDSM vibe layered throughout the track but I truly believe even Pinhead himself would think twice...
Ultimately, while I appreciate Gwen getting in touch for this, sadly this has for the most part, disappointed. There are plenty of moments over the course of the five tracks that hold great promise, as they’ve nailed that classic crossover sound of post-punk, early electronica and a dusting of industrial swarf, and that aspect of the band works just fine, but the vocals aren’t up to the task. The inspirations of ANNE RICE, EDGAR ALLAN POE, some of my own personal favourite bands, horror, mythology and hell even fetishism, told me I was potentially in for a great time with this EP, and I wanted to enjoy this so badly, but it wasn’t to be. We’ll end here on a more positive note though...cherry pips are a source of amygdalin, which your body converts to cyanide. Take those 666 cherry pips and chew them up nice and good before you listen to anymore. You can thank me when I bust out the Ouija board.