Album Review: Pompeya, ‘Real’
We may now take global interconnection for granted, but the American musical landscape remains overwhelmingly dominated by artists from just a handful of geographic regions (namely: the U.S. and Britain). So it's unsurprising that Russia -- in spite of its rich culture, deep (and often conflicted) history, longstanding geopolitical influence and heavy mystique -- has exported miniscule amounts of pop music in comparison to its American foothold in the realms of literature, ballet and hockey. But, as in so much of the world, we can rest assured that American and British pop continue to burrow deep into the collective psyche of other cultures, at least in purely musical terms.
The latest proof of this phenomenon arrives via Moscow trio Pompeya. A slick amalgam of new wave, disco and electropop, Pompeya never once let their Russian heritage show in their music. In fact, the precision with which they reproduce the casual cool and polish of, say, Hall and Oates and Tears for Fears (on "Pasadena," for example) betrays a total and absolute fluency in '80s synth-pop and blue-eyed-soul tradition. And the execution of those styles doesn't get any more effortless than the band sounds on Real, its sophomore full-length. As on their first album, Tropical, Pompeya overtly reference exotic (to them) locales.
Indeed, even though the band embraces adult lyrical themes this time out, its sound hews closer to California -- and Malibu at that -- than Moscow. For that matter, Real doesn't necessarily sound like any of cities it was recorded in: Philadelphia, New York, Savannah, Orlando. It's hard to say whether Pompeya actually intended for Real to convey a sense of dislocation from their surroundings, but they nevertheless imbue these new songs with a dreamy glow that immediately distinguishes them from the work of other artists treading similar ground.