I don’t usually mention previous albums in the title of album reviews; I like to wait until the review to touch on context and from where the current album stems. However, Marching Band’s Spark Large, released in 2008, was a diamond in the rough for me – I hadn’t heard a thing about them before listening. So when I first heard Spark Large, I was in awe. Nearly every song was a clean little masterpiece of pop with ridiculously catchy choruses and playful instruments that weren’t afraid to break out of their shell.
On Pop Cycle, the swedish Marching Band duo of Jacob Lind and Erik Sunbring bring their trademark accessible pop, but the songs aren’t brimming with confidence. While some, including me, say that could be a mark of a band’s maturity (to keep songs reserved and more focused), Marching Band’s brand of pop isn’t meant to be kept under a rock. While the sound remains pop-candy to the ear, there’s definitely less pizzaz, and it’s disappointing. However, because of Lind and Sunbring’s ability to continue to make grandiose pop, Pop Cycle is still a solid listen.
The first track, “Another Day”, is a standout with stirring percussion as its base and a hazy synth throughout, while “It’s Not Your Dream (But His)” has a pulsating guitar line and “Never Underestimate” pulls us in with its keys and bells (who doesn’t love bells??) and plays with the duo’s warm harmonies. But even the best songs on the album lack the necessary push to fully explode, and that’s why I’m left mostly unsatisfied after listening to Pop Cycle.