Spare the hip-to-be-square jokes: the only thing popular about the Popular Shapes has gotta be their obviously well-exercised fondness for the Fall (and latter-day disciples of Mr. Smith such as Le Shok), which puts them square—oops!—in the center of the Pacific Northwest's other punk explosion. Like spearhead the A-Frames—Seattle's first and only art-punk band!—and spear-carriers the Lights and the Intelligence, the Popular Shapes revive the acidic obstinacy of the Fall and the tongue-in-cheek fuzz of the Swell Maps with an adrenaline shot to the heart, marrying the self-conscious experimentation of Brit post-punk bands to needles-on-red Sonics superpower. It's a fun ride and a short one, with the best songs over as fast as a string of firecrackers: standout "Symmetrical Girl" reappears from their debut single here in clearer but somehow less stirring form, but "Flattered You're Terrified"'s pop-sick chorus and "Outrageous Math Test"'s cheerfully bilious power-riffing (behind such lines as "Your emergency! Starts tomorrow!") are just as much fun as "International Rescue" or "H.S. Art." It has a beat, and you can complain to it—did art punk ever need anything else?
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