Best New Children's Music 2012 / OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

The Pop Ups – “Outside Voices” CD Review


The Sound: Imagine MTV circa ’86-’87 (you know, back when they played videos) if MTV was run by a pair of awesome dads with kids ages 4-8 at home.

In the Cafeteria, They Sit With: John Upchurch & Mark Greenberg, Clementown, Dog on Fleas

Best Moments: The Pop Ups debut kindie CD opens with Arcade Fire-like grandeur.  “Outside Inside” is an anthem worthy of mid-sized arenas, theatrical lighting and maybe some of that stage smoke.  The song uses the dramatic loud/soft rock-n-roll technique to illustrate, um, the loud/soft voices needed depending on your environs.  Yeah, it’s a lesson song; maybe the coolest one you’ll ever hear.

The effervescent, dance hall-ready “Big Wheel” rolls with a Justice “D.A.N.C.E.”-esque cool. Unless you are paying close attention to lyrics like “I don’t need / to fit in / as long as I’ve got pedals and some plastic rims”, you’d have absolutely no idea “Big Wheel” was written with children in mind.  For fans of electro-pop, this is the kids song of your dreams.  For everyone else, feel free to consider “Big Wheel” the kindie dance song of the summer.

Some pasta company (I’m looking at you, Barilla) needs to fork over $50,000 or so for the rights to “Pasta”.  If used in a TV spot, the song’s punchy chorus would have moms and dads racing to their grocery store’s Italian aisle for some orecchiette and fusilli.  It’s the greatest love song to pasta that’s ever been written.  If you’re a musician thinking about recording a spaghetti song or some ditty about durum wheat, feel free to move on to another topic ’cause this bowl of pasta has been perfected.

Bonus Thought: Is it just me or is that picture up there screaming “Take on Me”?

Bonus Bonus Thought: Read my interview with the The Pop Ups here.

Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: At the core of “Outside Voices” are basic kiddie rock staples – animal sounds, balloons, the alphabet – but in the hands of The Pop Ups these commonplace topics end up masquerading as uber-hip 80’s-tinged modern rock songs.

If a soundtrack was to be curated for a film about young parents and child-rearing, maybe with Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson as an urban 20-something kid caught by surprise by the pregnancy of his young love but who rises to the occasion and ends up becoming a superb father, “Outside Voices” would be the perfect album for that movie.

The Pop Ups “Outside Voices” is as ambitious a debut kid’s album as I’ve ever heard.  While many children’s acts have incorporated a dancey number, a UB40-inspired reggae song, a 1950’s jukebox rock tune, and a horn section into a single album, not many have ever exhibited such maturity and mastery of the differing musical ideas in their 1st crack at it.  That is what The Pop Ups have done here.  Not bad for a bedroom recording project.

This album is magnificent and you need to own it.

Stream and or download/purchase the whole album here:

*The Pop Ups “Outside Voices” was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.

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