PREMIERE: Helena Pop - Oh! What A Shame!
The first time I saw Helena Pop play live was an experience I will remember for a long time to come. On the first night of No Front Fences 2019 in the Homestead I was blown away and I remember leaning over to my friend Jim and saying, “this is my new favourite live band from Canberra” and that has rung true since. I have been blown away and entertained every time I’ve had the good pleasure of seeing H-Pop play.
For fans of the band there has been one question, “when are we getting more music?” after their EP release in 2018 You Said You Loved Them, fans had to wait more than a year for their follow up single, the anthemic Punk’s Dead. Well here we are, in August of 2020 and we have a new Helena Pop song to enjoy, Oh! What a Shame!
As a song it is everything I love about Helena Pop, musically rich and interesting, lyrics that really make me think about a lot of things and a few welcome surprises that keep me guessing. One such surprise is the 'Boroky break’ (called that by bass wizard Ben) but could also be called a ‘Dilla style’ break, at the start of the third verse, a reference and shout out to Sydney (formerly Canberra) based musician and producer Boroky. The verse really stands out with almost a hip-hop feel, driven by the drums and bass with a pentuplet swing that gives the fairly straight feeling song a moment of reprieve and groove before springing back to the almost trademark frantic H-Pop energy after a stripped back chorus.
This song was produced by Jono Tooke (Cry Club) who also worked on the last single and when asked about working with Jono, Ben said that “Jono allowed us to explore what was interesting to us and facilitated our living our best lives” and for anyone who has seen the band or listened to previous releases from the group know that Helena Pop is not a band to shy away from exploring sounds, themes and ideas not typically found in alt-rock music.
Lyrically the song is very on brand for H-Pop, I found myself resonating with the words lead singer Jack was singing without really understanding them at first, a testament to the use of imagery in the lyrics. However after a few listens (and asking the band) I came to the conclusion that the song is about the concept of choice and chance, a conclusion which was affirmed when Jack said that the song was in part inspired by the concept of choose your own adventure books, how the character’s fate is left to chance with the semblance of being a part of a grander design.
Skip the credits, turn to page five
Didn’t have a plan B, this is how I was going to live my life
Everything in the middle of course
I don’t miss staring at a screen constantly figuring out that I’m worthless
Helena Pop’s music for me always has roots in feelings of love and joy, perhaps because I know members of the band pretty well, perhaps because I associate Helena Pop shows with being surrounded by friends, but on this release (particularly with the state of the world being as it is) that especially rings true, it is a song that feels real, honest and as Jack said to us, shows how much fun the band has when playing together.
When asked about future releases Jack had this to say, “As all things are part of us and we are part of them. The inevitable march to homogenisation is something we irrevocably do not avoid.” … So I guess we can look forward to more Helena Pop in the (hopefully) not too distant future.