05/05/2014 04:19 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This Is Pop: Take It or Leave It


If you know nothing about the band Latimer House from Prague and their debut, All The Rage, a look at the cover art might have you expecting a Dali-esque sound paradox, a collage of varied distorted sounds creating a new whole. However, the effort appears far from the sketch, which opens with a drum/guitar driven arrangement that has its soul in pop-rock incorporating catchy hooks, repeat choruses and melodies.

First impressions are sometimes wrong, but in this case All The Rage continues to deliver the same one-dimensional sound throughout, with some variations on a few tracks. Although Latimer House doesn't quite live up to offering a novel sound, it can be appreciated for its minimalistic qualities. Perhaps they were just aiming to live in the world of pop instead of changing it.

Furthermore, there is no rage in "This Is Pop" except that the lyrics are trying to make some comment on capitalism, war and processed meat. It opens with a sweet vibe that continues through for a little over four minutes, and you might love it or hate it. The next track, "Burn" offers a bit more diversity as far as musical composition with the addition of cello and violin, but sounds and feels as though it's being restrained. By what? Who knows? The lyrics in "Burn" are preoccupied with revelation number nine "each year the party's over / each year we light the flame," Joe Cook -- the lead singer -- conveys somewhat flatly. The benign quality of this album continues on with "Eye Can See" when the lyrics pick up another theme -- perspective, but no radical message here either.

At this juncture if you go back to the cover art, the imagery might offer a few clues about what this effort is up to. Clearly, the illustration is an abstract geometric puzzle, but what do the pieces reveal? The box-like structure is obviously the Latimer house. And according to Gothic literature, all houses are captives to their own metaphysical dream world as well as history. Contained inside the house are the metaphors in All The Rage: disorder, destruction, disillusionment. But the most important overarching theme is the number nine -- industrial nations you're about to burn in hell. Of course, smack in the middle of the house is a ticking clock which makes the connection to the fourth track: Don't waste time "Open Your Heart" and follow it, Cook sings while the drum beats and the trumpet blasts.

To get back to the simple soundscape, there's something missing in All The Rage. Maybe it's the rage? Half-way through the album, the sound departs from its cushiness with a lustful bluesy track "Red Heart Sequin Blues" followed by a love song "Your Love" and it's here where you'll get to hear some piano and some more trumpet. But soon, the album returns to the humdrum conventional sounds that initiated the effort.

Latimer House is too undemanding both lyrically and musically to be placed amongst a dream world beyond the logical. Their sound is just standard. But who knows -- they might have an audience that prefers to stay within the realm of the real where there are 46 million on food stamps / in the land of make-it-big / And young men get blown sky high / in distant lands / This is pop.

You can listen to Latimer House's album All The Rage on BandCamp.