ALBUM REVIEW: The Bombpops – Death In Venice Beach (Fat Wreck Chords)

The Bombpops’ second album Death In Venice Beach is out now on Fat Wreck Chords.

Californian punk band The Bombpops took 10 years to release their first album after being formed by co-frontwomen Jen Razavi and Poli van Dam in 2007.

Much of that was down to the ever-changing line-up of the band, which saw them go through three different drummers and six bass players.

All that changed when, after recruiting Josh Lewis (drums) and Neil Wayne (bass), they finally found a settled line-up and released debut album Fear Of Missing Out in 2017.

Keen to make up for lost time, here they are with the follow-up, and it’s fair to say the four-piece have stepped up to the challenge.

With a sound like a poppier version of The Donnas or a punked-up Paramore, it would be easy to dismiss The Bombpops is just another jaunty pop-punk band.

The Bombpops. Pic: Alexia Carroll.

Catchy riffs and infectious melodies are something they do very well, but there’s a dark underbelly – hardly surprising, as Poli was in rehab during the writing of the album, and has penned some extremely self-searching lyrics.

Opener Dearly Departed starts with a roll call of famous dead people – JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Sid and Nancy – and asks what we learned from their deaths, while Double Arrows Down is about van Dam’s struggle with diabetes – she had a diabetic seizure on tour.

Things move up a notch with the Natural Born Killers-inspired Zero Remorse, which features dual vocals from the co-frontwomen, while Notre Dame seems to be a metaphor for a failed relationship on which the singer pinned all her hopes.

Sad To Me, which features one of the best riffs on the album, is quite the reverse, about being unable to let go of a bad relationship: “I doubt that I will give a shit, About the fact that you’re a prick, I bet you that I will forget, When I’m done writing these lyrics.”

Can’t Come Clean is about another bad relationship, this time with alcohol, while Blood Pact, also seemingly inspired by Natural Born Killers, reminds me very much of Bad Religion, and In The Doghouse addresses infidelity.

The frenetic 13 Stories Down, again warning of the dangers of drink, is possibly the album’s standout track, and could have been written by Alkaline Trio, with its stark admission “I’m not an alcoholic, I just play one on the weekends.”

Radio Silence is another break-up song, with bubblegum pop vocals and a delicious guitar riff, while House On Fire, with its swaggering riff, sounds like a single, until you hear “hooks, whips, and rubber dicks, are scattered all over the hallway, this is our new normal.”

The album closes with Southbound Stranger, another break-up song, which ends in bleak fashion with our protagonist concluding: “ I bought a gun, Not sure if I know how to use one, They tell me that there’s nothing to it, Just pull the trigger, you can do it, You left me in L.A …” 8/10.

Gary Welford owner