The Pop Group - Y (1979), 7/10

The combination of infectious melody with dissonant atmosphere makes Y an interesting listen and a solid album favoring the avant-garde with traces of free jazz and funk intertwined in its passages. It remains the group’s most ambitious and successful effort despite falling short of other experiments that combine these two musical palettes together. Yet the infusion of post-punk makes the album surprisingly unique, as does Stewart’s unique vocal delivery. There is no artistic compromise as there would be just one year later with For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? yet results vary dramatically making the album good but not great as a whole experience. Songs like the added “She Is Beyond Good and Evil”, “Snowgirl” and “We Are Time” feel almost unfairly catchy despite their abstruse foundation. The anxious, noisy instrumentation blends unusually fluidly with the band’s straightforward melodies and combines to great effect. Still, songs like “Words Disobey Me” and “The Boys From Brazil” that lean further into ethereal complexity reveal a lack of principled understanding, making much of the album’s musical success feel more surreal and less calculated. The excessive use of layers actually makes the album’s ethos more effective, especially juxtaposed against punchy post-punk delivery. The album is rather successful as a dream-like experience, leaving impressions of sound rather than definitive instances of melody, making it something worth returning to for depth of understanding while offering a supremely entertaining listen as well.