Das Pop The Human Thing

Originally dubbed "Belgian Britpop,” this four-piece distils a range of pop influences old and new into a slick, half-electronic half-acoustic package. The larger-than-life sounds on this sophomore release have been well crafted by producer Phil Vinal (the Auteurs, Placebo, Elastica) who manages to get the balance right between these competing styles and sounds. Live strings, piano, drums and guitars (heavy and acoustic) work hand-in-hand with drum machines and bouncy keyboards, topped off by singer Bent Van Looy’s fey, crooning voice. Sonically they are in the same league as retro-pop loving French artists who choose to work in English — Air, Phoenix, Tahiti 80 and the like. Das Pop do a fantastic job of raising the ghosts of late ’70s new wave, early ’80s synth-pop, and then updating these sounds into the 21st century, particularly on epic tracks like "Feelgood Factors,” "Never There” or "We Live Again.” Other notable moments come across more gently, such as the title track or the pretty album opener "You.” Their ten-year history in music has certainly paid off. This is a solid album with few weak spots. There’s something distinctly European about Das Pop, and with The Human Thing they have helped put Belgium firmly on the global Anglo-pop map typically dominated by the French and the Swedes. (Global Warming)