Former Doe drummer and co-vocalist Jake Popyura is back with his second album as Supermilk. ‘Four by Three’ follows hot on the heels of last year’s ‘Death Is The Best Thing For You Now’. Quite the prolific songwriter, then.
For those familiar with Popyura’s previous band the opener “Unsafe” initially seems a curveball, with the acoustic opening half. However, it bursts into more familiar territory with a Britpoppy refrain and college rock outro. Popyura’s vocal is instantly recognisable, earnest and unabashed. It’s an unexpected opener that brings to mind Pavement’s “We Dance”, in that it doesn’t open with guns blazing.
“Cease To Exist” ups the ante; upbeat, with call and response guitars.
The imagery of teeth falling out and the unertainty expressed throughout meld perfectly with the twitchy and accessible instrumental.
“Mouth” is very Doe-like. You can instantly hear the Weezer and Pixies influence in the chunky bass and wirey guitars. Seemingly a tail of a relationship coming to an end for wanting different things. It’s perfectly crafted college rock, with Pavement-esque “ooh-oohs” and chord progressions, and bendy guitar guitar solo to close.
Popyura goes all Rivers Cuomo on the swaying, chugging “Fears”, which would no doubt massively appeal to ‘Pinkerton’ fans.
“Lifesaver” works as the midpoint breather. Popyura’s use of rhythm here is undoubtedly the work of a drummer. His melodic sensibilities, however, are also undeniably strong.
Continuing with the playful rhythms, the delightfully jagged “Swim” revolves around a head spinningly funky 5/4 beat.
The guitars ping from speaker to speaker gleefully. It picks up the baton and carries the momentum through the second half of ‘Four By Three’.
The slinky lead guitar on “Pelican Pete” is a joy. The vocal melody is very strong, recalling Vancouver’s New Pornographers at their most poptastic.
‘Four By Three’ is clearly carefully put together. The quiet loud dynamic runs as much through the track list as it does the songs.
The glitchy broken computer game instrumental “Hale Bopp” provides a neat segue to the thick, chugging “The Skin”. The needly guitar licks are straight out of the Doug Martsch school of songwriting. The breakdown midway through is delightfully bendy, the rhythms throughout hold and release tension so simply and organically.
The craft seems effortless, as if these songs have just written themselves.
“Used To It” has a wonky scale that once again brings Pavement to mind. This time a little hint of “Gangsters & Pranksters”. Apart from that though, it’s one final slice of earnest acoustic guitar lead power pop. Popyura’s lyrics like little snapshots of memories.
‘Four By Three’ is a super strong post punk tinged college rock album. Supermilk is a worthy follow up project to the fantastic Doe. Popyura is growing as a songwriter, still with influences visibly on his sleeve, he combines them to create a unique whole that is quite exceptional. One of the most instantly likeable and accessible albums of the year so far.
You may enjoy this if you like: Doe, Pixies, Weezer, Built to Spill, Pavement
‘Four by Three’ is out now via Specialist Subject Records.