Pop Friction

I’m frequently asked what the music scene in Singapore is like. Well, it doesn’t exist – at least, not for English rock music, anyway. There is a “Singapore Idol” coming up soon but I’m sure you’ll agree that that hardly counts.

So where does Calamity Pop fit in?

Masterminded by Englishman Paul Russell, who writes and plays most of what can be heard on Calamity Pop’s debut album, the Singaporean context is provided by singer Zuq Iruall, who is the voice and face of Calamity Pop and does a bang up job at it.

At first brush, the music on Pop Friction appears to be so stridently 80s in terms of production values and instrumentation that it can be initially rather disconcerting. But that’s an unfair assessment.

Fact is, Russell is a solid, competent and at times, inspired songwriter who underneath the sophisticated AOR sheen, has delivered song of substance and timeless quality.

Case in point, the opening “Rollercoaster,” which for all its dancefloor predilections, possesses a melodic pop heart – you just need to scratch beneath the surface – hard! But it is with the reggae-infused “Better the Devil” that Russell and Iruall begin to get into their stride, with a kicking chorus that will definitely leave an impression.

The rest of Pop Friction doesn’t stray too far off this high – the throbbing “Rain,” the blissful “Heaven,” the poignant “Someone I Don’t Know” and the driving “Game.”

Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’d wager – Calamity Pop’s over-reliance on ballads and reggae (not to mention the dreaded synth horns!) – can seem monotonous, but if you’re a fan of well-written and well-constructed pop songs and (especially) 80s-styled pop, then you need to check out Pop Friction. B-