Superorganism's 'World Wide Pop' Is a Party and Everyone Is Invited
Published Jul 12, 2022Superorganism seemed to have arrived from another dimension in 2018 with their wacky, hyper-collagist self-titled debut, full of woozy hooks and splice-happy soundbites. Having famously never been in the same room together prior to its release (teenage lead singer Orono Noguchi contributed her parts from an apartment in Maine), the eight-person, London, UK-based collective had, perhaps by virtue of their separation, managed to put the entire internet into a cosmic blender, resulting in a psychotropic smoothie of warped pop fun that made a lot of waves at the time.
It was a lightning-in-a-bottle situation, and you can hear the band straining a bit to recreate it on the follow-up, World Wide Pop. Thankfully the effort largely pays off — this is another hugely enjoyable trip of an album from the group (pared down now to a quintet, but drawing on a bevy of guest stars), once again bursting with samples and even better songwriting. It all might come off as a bit extra to some, but it's pretty easy to lay back and be disarmed by the charm.
Opening with a doorbell and finishing with what sounds like someone thoughtfully eating an apple, it is indeed hard not to expel air from one's jaded nose whenever the next goofball clip pushes its way to the fore, including the return of that creepy, pitch-shifted Tony Robbins voice that seems to be around every corner. This sample-heavy irreverence was a big part of the appeal of their debut, and it generally remains so here, although it might be getting just a bit exhausting — when the trippy "Solar System" opens, with its kitschy "science is out of this world" homeroom poster vibes, you half expect Bill Nye to start beatboxing or something. Alas, it is our fate to go without this meme-worthy event, but if that's the kind of zaniness you can't get enough of, you're in for a good time here.
The production is brighter and tighter throughout, which allows every piece of glittering excess to pop even more, and the guest appearances crowding the album's first half lend things a party atmosphere that's genuinely infectious, with new faces coming and going as the gummies pop into the night. Stylistic omnivores CHAI are an obvious fit (returning the favour, as Superorganism guested on their recent single "HERO JOURNEY"), and Stephen Malkmus kind of makes sense, contributing some elder-statesman-of-cool energy to the proceedings (we'll pass over his loopy pseudo-rapping on "It's Raining" with a magnanimous silence), but the more exciting moments come from the relative unknowns, like French artist Pi Ja Ma, who somehow turns "Put Down Your Phone" into a widescreen prairie epic for 10 seconds during the bridge, ghostly pedal steel and everything.
That said, it's worth noting that one of the album's simpler tracks is easily its most immediate and potent. Buried in the album's centre, the aptly named "Flying" is a euphoric two and a half minutes of soaring pop excellence that gets by without guest stars or crazy bells and whistles — unless you count the blazing sax solo that pushes you even further into ecstasy at the end.
It wouldn't hurt for Superorganism to explore this more fully in future, as the word "schtick" sometimes feels alarmingly close on World Wide Pop — but also just far enough away. This is an album that throws everything at the wall, and most of it sticks. Best enjoyed in the present. (Domino)