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23 happy pills, without the nasty side effects
Celina Murphy, 27 Aug 2012
t’s often impossible to pick out the qualities that tie the acts in an indie label together, besides of course, the fact that none of them are on the cover of Forbes magazine this month.
With Dublin label Popical Island, the similarities have always been that little bit easier to pinpoint: all 14 acts currently gracing the roster employ charmingly low production values, most of them fall into the category of garage pop, surf rock or noise pop, many of them share a penchant for colloquial turns of phrase and – somewhat confusingly for the rest of us – they appear to trade band members like horny teenagers trade body fluids.
That said, it took three dynamite anthologies to figure out the truly important thing that Popical signees, along with the other ten-or-so acts on Compilation #3 have in common: they’re all absolutely delirah to be here and making music, and it comes through in the songs.
PI #3, described by the label itself as a “life-changing, pretty good compilation by us and our mates”, is a double album. It fits on one CD, two cassettes or two downloads, depending on your technological preference, and it’s a whopping 23 songs long, each one an instant mood-elevator.
Not that these are all enchanted tales of bliss. Land Lovers’ ‘There’s No Place Like A Prison’ is hardly a lyrical bag of laughs, ditto ‘I Wish I Was Lonely’ by the #1 and Big Monster Club’s ‘River Valley Gurls’, which marries a familiar Irish predicament (“I’m still tied to this grey old town/ It’s just no fun when the old crew’s not around”) with a familiar universal one (“You were always such a callous bitch”).
In a brighter mood are Groom, who declare, “It’s amazing when young people fall in love” over a honking synth hook; Squarehead, who lay their cards on the table on the atypically chaotic ‘I Love You’; and Ginnels, who succumb to a rare idealistic moment on the gorgeously clanging ‘Gang Of Witches’.
Elsewhere, highlights include the heartwarming ‘Sister Ill, Better Now’ by Mumblin’ Deaf Ro and Patrick Kelleher’s scuzzy disco anthem ‘Better Than I Thought’, which made a muffled appearance at the end of ‘I Don’t Remember’ on his last album, Golden Syrup.