It’s hard to fathom what the band are trying to pull off – there isn’t enough earnestness or tongue-in-cheek derision, therefore Pop Etc sounds like a mess of half-hearted ventures.
There's always a Catch-22 situation when an established band finds itself wanting or having to alter their name. For better or worse, when a band finds a foundation and some leverage with the discerning public, it becomes their brand. From Pivot to PVT, Death From Above tacking on 1979, and Shihad to Pacifier (and back again), bands find themselves either working harder so as not to confuse their fans, or confounding them completely by going in a different direction. So it is with Californian trio The Morning Benders, whose Big Echo was a pretty solid album in 2010. Yet, due to their moniker's UK-based negative connotations to the LBGT community, they have been reborn as POP ETC.
And it fails miserably. This self-titled “debut” is wholly uninspired, stale, irksome and, worst of all, boring. The complete overuse of Auto-tune aside, there are no real hooks inherent in these cheesy synth lines and sunny percussive trebles to leave a lasting impression. Opening track New Life is a misnomer – the rot sets in from here. The lyrics waver from hokey (“She said why do we bother/I said I'm not your father”), to self-indulgent quirk (“I don't own an SUV/So don't you judge me/When I roll up on this Schwinn/I ain't guzzlin'”), to just plain silly (“I ain't never disrespect no woman/Never called a girl a ho” – good for you).
It's hard to fathom what the band are trying to pull off – there isn't enough earnestness or tongue-in-cheek derision, therefore Pop Etc sounds like a mess of half-hearted ventures. It may make a couple of minor impressions on the Top 40 circuit – but don't hold your breath.