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Pop is a messy genre to define. At its core, pop is dependent upon the omnipotent hook. This can be a melody, a beat, or even a repetitious one liner that says what everyone feels but doesn't know how to define. Pop can range from the thrashiest of garage-punk to the most polished EDM. But as long as you have that all-mighty hook, the kids will keep coming.

Enter in POP ETC. On January 29th, the band released their fourth LP, Souvenir. They released their first two albums under the name The Morning Benders. But the POP ETC seems to give them some new life. Souvenir is big, really big. It is polished, pure-cut anthem-pop. And while each song has a big hook or catchy beat, the band borrows from different genres to give an added oomph to the tracks.

The opening track, 'Please, Don't Forget Me' is all 21st Century, arena-filling alt-pop. There are bombastic drums, a melody that sticks in your head, and a synth riff that borrows cues from MGMT. The song is expansive though; you get the sense it was written to be performed in an arena with plenty of space to invite in those saccharine sounds. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album. Even though the lyrics, "It isn't hard to understand/ why we can't hold on to what we had./ But please, don't forget me" paint the picture of a failed relationship, it can be seen as a plea to an unseen audience. This album is them proving they have grown and you should give that a second thought.

Then there's songs like 'Vice'. 'Vice' is all '80s- from the synth-heavy bass to the echo drenched guitar. And 'Running In Circles' takes it one step further with those pulsing synths, driving drums, and haunted verses. Then the chorus opens up to an '80s rock sound, with guitar taking more of a lead. Then it suddenly warps you back into a dim LA club, you know the one- off the strip, where your mom's friend went on Thursday nights to smoke unfiltered cigarettes and bad mouth Depeche Mode for selling out.

'What Am I Becoming' gets a little modern psych-pop vibe. There's a repetitive fuzzed guitar riff and beautiful harmonies on the chorus. And that funky bass line gets your hips moving. But again, that "ETC" plays a role in the various sounds and genres they borrow from. There is plenty of R&B in the soulfulness of the vocals.

In all honesty, each song on this album could be a single. On one hand that is a compliment. People don't realize how difficult it is to write a song that is catchy with being kitschy or trite. To have an album chock-full of that is an accomplishment. But it also hurts the album a little. Every single song feels like it is trying to be an anthem. Every song is heavily produced and boisterous. This band has talent, loads of it. It would have helped if they played a little more with dynamics. There is no real quiet or contemplative moment on the album. With LPs, the listener is going on a journey; and a journey can be boring if you're traveling a flat, straight road. The scenery may change, but there is no sense of danger. Playing with dynamics would have given this album more of a pop because then the songs that are truly anthems would stand out more.

In an age where the market is so saturated with music, it is difficult to find bands that stand out for more than one song. Souvenir proves that POP ETC are a band people should be listening to. The genre of 'pop' gets a bad rap. It is so often associated with the monotonous radio-pop that we start to believe hooks and being catchy is a bad thing; that somehow having a melody line that is fun to sing means you're just too corporate and not an "artist". POP ETC challenges that notion with Souvenir and succeeds.

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