The Pop Group are back…again! ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ sees the cherished post-punk veterans follow up their 2015 comeback album ‘Citizen Zombie’, an effort that was artistically welcoming, stylistically quirky, but it still left fans and followers wanting more.
The backbone of the album is a far-out, futuristic setting. A vacant, disorganised, dystopian basis with an industrial cream that we didn’t really get to taste on ‘Citizen Zombie’. It’s nice to hear the Pop Group still piling on those bold, eccentric pounds, and the creative merit of said eccentricity is a lot more consistent on ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ – it was only seen sparingly on the comeback album, most notably on ‘Mad Truth’.
Mark Stewart is still on top of his game, branding enthusiasm onto listeners with quintessential one-word bellows of “war” on ‘War Inc.’ and “pure” on ‘Pure Ones’. It’s been a long time since his lyrics have completely suited the capabilities of his voice, that amazing sense of animation. The themes of dread and apocalyptic fear spliced with alternative pop rock are fairly similar to those accomplished by Everything Everything on their 2015 album ‘Get to Heaven’, except this album has a chaotic, crumbling production style where the synth doesn’t surround the track, but instead pokes its nose in when appropriate.
While the album feels unique on a whole, few standalone tracks do the same on their own merit. After ‘Instant Halo’ and ‘City of Eyes’ pass us by, we’re left with very little to sink our teeth into. A lot of the compositions are non-songs, with tracks like ‘Days Like These’ and the closing track ‘Burn Your Flag’ sounding like outtakes.
Luckily, there’s a decent amount of personality present on ‘Honeymoon on Mars’, even if there are a few moments where the band seem to almost be messing with the audience. All in all, the album is probably what most people were expecting it to be, whether or not that’s a good thing differs from person to person. The overall theme is unusual and executed proficiently. The motives of the Pop Group on ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ are unique, not in the grandest way, but this record is far from boring.