Human culture has reached its terminus. The corporate and political machinery that seeks to subjugate our bodies and control our minds has utterly defeated us, and we didn’t put up a fight. We willingly participate in the constant surveillance that has stripped us of any semblance of privacy. It is this world that Pop.1280 inhabits, and unto this world that they offer Paradise, their third full-length album. Paradise is an act of defiance against the engineers of these end times, yes — but it’s also an unforgiving look into the mirror; it’s the paradise we created for ourselves.
While Paradise is indeed concerned about the ills that technology has wrought in the modern world, it’s also a record fraught with existential ennui. A fear permeates the record that the world will never get any better; that we as humans have made our bed and now must lie in it. The combined weight of those external and internal forces lay the foundation for the album, and they give it its power. Paradise builds on 2013’s Imps of Perversion LP and 2015’s Penetrate 7" by venturing further outside of traditional notions of punk, and diving even deeper into outer sounds. Synthesizers, mechanized drum machines, and samplers play as critical a role on the record as the more familiar squall of Ivan Drip’s buzzsaw guitar and Chris Bug’s vocals. Any noise a band member could make that helped contribute to the record’s atmosphere of unease was welcome; synth player Allegra Sauvage adds cello to two songs, and drummer/producer Andy Chugg plays trumpet on the title track.
The sessions for Paradise were held at the Population Control Center, and the result is the most collaborative Pop. 1280 release to date. Despite its misgivings about technology, Paradise was made possible by the confluence of humans and their machines, at times struggling for control, but ultimately working together to create this vital, vicious piece of art. If the bitter irony makes you smile, hold that pose — the camera lens is watching.