It’s not often I would lead a single review with a nod to the record label but Popty Ping* (or The Popty Ping Recording Company, to give them their full title) are a fabulous example of how dedication and love of music can be the impetus to put songs out you love. Popty-Ping have released a series of highly collectable 7” single releases from acts like CHROMA (PING005), Red Telephone (PING006) and Mowbird (PING002). The design is outstanding as all the singles have the same Popty-Ping livery and coloured vinyl. And now we have PING007: and the band Big Thing bringing us the two-track single ‘Say When’ and ‘Eye to Eye’, and this is definitely licenced to thrill.
‘Say When’ demonstrates some exemplary pop marquetry. Barely two and a half minutes long, it packs acres of fun into an allotment of time. It starts with a solo vocal shout straight into a wall of guitars, bass, and drums. Then a low section that has the crafted tingle of a Prefab Sprout song and then the chorus blasts in like a punch to the solar plexus. Catch-a-breath-pauses mean that every hesitation makes the next wall of instruments a joy and there’s even time to fire in a guitar solo before the chorus sweeps us off to the end.
‘Eye to Eye’ is a track that you can imagine listening to driving down a coast road with the top down. It’s got echoes of those huge tracks by stadium filling bands like Journey or Boston and UK acts such as Big Country, Deacon Blue or Icicle Works. Dunkie, a supporter on the Bandcamp page, also cites The Estrons which is a good call. Super-hooky guitars soar out over powerful tunes and go-big-or-go-home harmonies. The light and dark between verse and chorus allows for full chorus-consummation, fulfilling enough to crave a cigarette afterwards. Big Thing must surely be in danger of blowing up studio consoles trying to pack so much power into their tracks so it’s a credit to Bob Cooper at Crooked Rain Studios that he was able to capture that lightning in a bottle. Popty-Ping and Big Thing are a match made in pop heaven.
A note on small labels like Popty Ping: supporting small labels is something I strongly believe is essential for music lovers (and if you’re on the Joyzine site, that’s you!). Small labels don’t command pressing plant time in order to shovel out some aging rockstars farting outtakes on splatter vinyl. These are labels supporting mint-fresh new music, and while they may not make a loss, they are not browsing through super-yacht catalogues as I type. Don’t download music for free, use streaming services as research and then buy the vinyl or the download or, if payday is a way off, buy some merch, like a badge. Independent labels are keeping the exciting end of music alive and not pumping musical-Prozac into our drinking water.
*Just in case you didn’t know ‘Popty-ping’ is the Welsh noise a microwave makes when your tea’s ready.
Review by Paul F Cook