|Gun - 'Popkiller' (Townsend Records)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Sunday, 20 December 2009 16:06|
I really had nothing against Toby Jepson. Well, there was the story of my old friend (the perhaps appropriately named) Jinx and his Little Angels curse. Jinx loved the Jepson-fronted Little Angels but whenever he planned to see them live something always went spectacularly wrong. Take, for example, the time when he counted down the seconds until their appearance at Lazers in Newport only for the band to cancel the gig due to a heavy snowfall. How Crüe-l.
Snow was the least of Jinx's worries when he finally had the chance to see Little Angels when they were announced as support to Cinderella on their UK tour in 1988. The venue was Newport Centre and, maybe because the excitement got the better of him, maybe because he was checking the skies for an impending show-cancelling blizzard, he managed to get himself knocked over by a car outside the venue and missed the entire show getting checked out in hospital.
So, there may be some subconscious reason why I was wholly unaccepting of Jepson's recruitment into the ranks of Gun. Realistically though, I was just a fan of the band and simply couldn't imagine anyone replacing Mark Rankin and doing as good a job as the original vocalist. That was until Hard Rock Hell 3.....
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the insanely catchy song that was playing around me was, in fact, a track from the new Gun mini-album 'Popkiller.' A few hours later pleasant surprise was a distant memory and a distant relative actually of how I felt when I saw Gun fronted by Jepson live for the first time. They were awesome. Massive. Hat and humble pie-eatingly impressive. I couldn't get 'Popkiller' into my stereo quick enough - now I don't want to take it out.....
I think it's fair to say that a fair percentage of the ÜR massive sheds a little powerpop tear at the thought of the sadly-defunct and much missed Honeycrack. To find that 'Let Your Hair Down', the opening track from 'Popkiller', is a deadringer for a classic and catchy Willie Dowling tune omits a feeling similar to that of mainlining caffeine - an uplifting, infectious, yet surprising opening cut that is just huge.....and hugely impressive. 'Seraphina' follows and is a little more subtle, yet no less impressive; moodier, darker, but with an edge spiked with infectious hooks.
The title track of this mini-album is a retro romp that comes sugar-coated and laced with irony, while 'Ripping Up The Letters' appears to be haunted by a classic 80's-sounding pop aesthetic throughout its atmospheric four minute lifetime. This song is, in fact, the first time that thoughts of Mark Rankin force their way back into my mind, this being the first track which could, realistically, have been a song from the Gun of old. The fifth, and sadly, final track is 'The Only' which, like the previous four tracks, just sails by on a glorious sea of melody.
So, how will Gun fans react to this change of frontman and, ultimately, change of sound? Well, I consider myself a Gun fan so my opinion is law, right?! I think that 'Popkiller' is hugely impressive, highly infectious and should be heartily recommended. Whether this new era for the band is a natural progression or not doesn't really matter, the truth will out and, when all is said and done, the truth is that this release is fantastic. Toby Jepson has brought a freshness to the party and is such a perfect fit for Gun in 2009/10 that I think even my old car bumper troubling friend Jinx would forgive him......