Pope Joan – Hot Water, Lines and Rickety Machines

Pope Joan – Hot Water, Lines and Rickety Machines

http://www.myspace.com/popejoan http://www.konkurrent.nl/


Bollocks! Now I’ve got your attention let’s talk about religion. ‘Pope Joan’ take their name from the tale of a blip in papal history when a woman apparently managed to hide her sex successfully enough to become Chief Primate of the Catholic Church, but not successfully enough to prevent herself from getting pregnant and giving birth during a papal procession. Hence the rather peculiar ritual involving the sedes stercoraria, which is a seat with a big hole in it upon which any new Pope is apparently required to sit whilst the cardinals have a feel of his tackle to make sure he isn’t a she. Sadly (for those that like to believe that Dan Brown was on to something) it is almost certainly bollocks, (as it were)… The tale didn’t appear until about four hundred years after the supposed event and was most likely the product of anti-Catholic propaganda, borne from the carnival traditions of the 12th century. Not even the most vocal critics of the Catholic Church make any mention of the legend before then. It excites the type of people who read Dan Brown’s books with an uncritical eye, but doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. 


Which brings us to Pope Joan the band. As with the legend of the lady pope there is something that is ultimately unsatisfying in this album. For the most part they play around with stop-start song structure, shouty vocals and spiky guitars. In much the same way that so many other bands who label themselves ‘post-punk’ do. There are a few moments where they suggest something bigger, more interesting. Opener No TV is one; insistent and catchy. Another highlight is 49 Years Time, which has a nice use of synth. Sadly, however the tracks tend to bleed into each other, with only the semi-acoustic An Alertnative Route to the End introducing a change of mood or tempo. Mostly the album follows the template of Bloc Party’s more up-tempo numbers. And unfortunately, lead singer Tom doesn’t share the Kele Okereke’s expressive vocals.  


For all the shoutiness and spiky guitar work, the album has as much balls as the apocryphal Pope-ess. 


Words: Rover