Julia Robert - Pop Bullies (Cover Artwork)

Julia Robert

Pop Bullies (2019)

Now Now Just Now

The Cape Town music scene is an isolate. It dangles alone, at the bottom of the world, thousands of kilometers from the throbbing ley lines of Europe and North America. Left to their own devices, the punks and freaks of the Mother City have managed to piece together a hearty, robust, and diverse underground.

Of the current crop of brilliant bands, one band in particular shines brightest. For the better part of a decade, Julia Robert have been sharpening their collective teeth and developing their distinctive sound. After numerous EPs and singles, they have finally hunkered down to release a proper album.

Tapping into a myriad of musical veins, JR has always shown a knack for shaping their influences into a sound all their own. On “Pop Bullies”, the band tightens up all the screws and delivers the goods. The opening song, “Fuzzy Feelings”, serves as a bit of a sonic portfolio for the band. The instrumental track showcases the band’s musical diversity and musicianship while winking and nodding to influences. In one breath, the band seems to recites verses from 80’s post-punk, 90’s emo, and 00’s art-punk, without saying a word.

When the vocals do kick in, multi-instrumentalist and lead singer Ines Soutschka’s voice is both piercing and soothing, blooming from a sultry croon to a frenzied wail at the drop of a hat. This most evident on tracks like the dancy “Best Friend” or the psychedelic “Mud Girl”.

After a string of solid bangers, the album builds up to “Salt Seeks Summer”, a driving, pulsing, dirge that, like “Fuzzy Feelings”, showcases the band at their best; equal parts thrash and gloom and glitter. The angular guitar riff and cruising’ bass line merge to make a real fist-pumper.

Sadly, just as soon as it starts, the album comes to an end. But not before delivering the bands magnum opus, “Sterntaler”. The song appeared as a live version on the bands 2017 “Useless Junk” EP. It was a stand out track back then, and has since become a staple of their live show, so it is fitting that it gets the proper treatment on their full-length. The track is just absolutely epic in scope, opening with a melancholic dance movement, before erupting into a triumphant, atmospheric head-banger.

Clocking in at just 30 minutes, the only real complaint about “Pop Bullies” is its brevity. But at the end of the day though, quality triumphs over quantity and Julia Robert leaves us begging for more.