While best not to patronise, the premise of Superorganism’s World Wide Pop is darling. The odd-pop ensemble cast’s second album not only uses the power of pop music to combat the divisive evils of the world, but unashamedly believes in this objective; World Wide Pop uses pop music to save the world.
And while the now-quintet (they’re a few members short since their 2018 self-titled debut) may appear too well-humoured, or eager to goof on the listener, to muscle through with their objective, they boast all the tools required to shapeshift into the melodious superheroes they aspire to be. The most essential tool is friendship, which Superorganism are blessed with via a wild batch of helping hand-lenders, such as CHAI, Stephen Malkmus and Gen Hoshino – it’s like a Gorillaz holdover!
They also boast percussions that crack like glaciers attacked with hammers, DAW framework that’ll swap instruments in and out on a whim, and bottomless sacks of personality with a blast radius that’ll leave its audience covered in the goo of twenty-first-century vivacity. This is pop-optimism at its most pop-optimistic, an approach that will only grate if you’re never ever swayed by those with effervescent personalities (you curmudgeon!), which may become a factor on Teenager, as the otherwise-immaculate CHAI’s group vocals overwhelm with a snarling anti-harmony; the brief no-go-zone in which silliness becomes too silly, like a prank gone too far.
CHAI’s vocals are a lot friendlier on Solar System, which also offers a chiptune-y bassline that descends alongside vocal melodies, like the most amicable of space invaders. As Superorganism surf through the cosmos, their alien pop begs the question of whether they actually wish to be human. The out-of-this-world mood of World Wide Pop suggests the group has been summoned from another planet, still with the intent of curing Earth’s ills, fixated through the asteroid-colliding explosions of Everything Falls Apart, lyrical snippets like “Earth people need to get along” from the title track, and a primary focus on sci-fi-esque synthpop.
Astronomy fuels self-help synthpop like Don’t Let the Colony Collapse, whilst applying get-down synths – ones that Calvin Harris may have conjured back in the day – to opening track Black Hole Baby; oh, and explosions, don’t forget the explosions, finding a tasteful spot amidst non-sequiturs of spaceships and eating healthily.
When assessing whether this particular stylistic exercise will help Superorganism achieve their world-saving goals, we must look to Flying. Some of its lyrics are cliched in their motivation (the words “eye of the tiger” are used at one point), but the song’s anthemics will build bridges, bring cats and dogs closer together, and move us a couple of tiptoes closer to world peace with one big, freewheeling blast of “we’re FLYING”.
It’s all infectious anyway, certain to reel in a few bystanders whether the efforts are overt or not. Some tunes are just catchy, see the “candy cane, lollipop, sugary sweet” hook of Crushed.zip. See how tunes like Oh Come On and It’s Raining juggle a lower mood with the quirky pick-me-ups of youth, enticed by bright city lights and sound effects that resemble the opening of soft drink cans. There’s a magic to it; a spell that somehow gets Stephen Malkmus to rap, with hints of his trademark Pavement slacker tone retained, before sounding far more like himself on Into the Sun.
It’d be naïve to truly believe that Superorganism’s brand of cute, quirky pop is enough to reconnect us, but their stance on positivity could easily rub off on anybody. World Wide Pop uses sweetness to cure sourness, splashing around in its own extroversion; even if Superorganism don’t’ save the world, they’re dying trying.