Album Review: Supermilk – ‘Four By Three’

The Breakdown

Born from an abundance of writing amid the restrictions placed on individuals by the coronavirus pandemic, Jake Popyura's new record isn't merely making noise for the sake of it; sitting at the junction of rock and pop, 'Four By Three' deserves to be heard loud and clear.
Specialist Subject Records 8.5
Supermilk (credit: Julie Ernie)

Born from an abundance of writing amid the restrictions placed on individuals by the coronavirus pandemic, Jake Popyura, AKA Supermilk, started writing and demoing songs on a regular basis as part of a studio-only product. Soon enough, he had accumulated enough material for a new record following the release of two EPs in 2017 and 2019, not to mention his debut LP Death is the Best Thing For You Now.

Utilising the social distancing restrictions, Popyura teamed up with producer friend Rich Mandell to record Four By Three at Marketstall Recordings in East London over the course of only six days. This breakneck pace of recording comes across in the finished article, a work of sheer drive and urgency with unbridled enthusiasm, like a driver staying in the fast lane doing 75mph overtaking cars but not changing lanes. The fuzziness and power of the project streams out over the airwaves and harkens back to the final Doe album ‘Grow Into It’ from 2019, which was very much a call to arms for infectious punk rock. To this listener, this is a relative of the early albums from The Young Knives: melodically sharp with biting lyrics of the now, and an earnest vocal delivery by Popyura.

The punk rock DNA is there to see from track three ‘Cease to Exist’ to the poppy ‘Mouth’ to the infectious ‘Fears’ – this is a songwriter who is in the midst of a purple patch and enjoying himself, clearly working with the crippling restrictions of individuality to make the most of the situation; or, as he says himself: “One upside of 2020 for me was being forced to sit with uncertainty and learning to accept that some things can’t be resolved as neatly as we’d like, if at all, especially when it comes to interpersonal matters, but maybe that’s OK.

As he goes on to state, not everything has a neat ending. His lyrics are drawn from personal relationships but the accessibility of the music invites the listener to take it as their own. Take a song like ‘Lifesaver’: the vocals cleverly show a man almost calling desperately for help but clinging to his instruments for dear life just as much; or ‘Swim’ a real cacophony of drums vs. guitars. For me personally, to hear this music live would be a wonder. It reminded this listener of Prison on a Hill by Somos from 2019 – it is not merely making noise for the sake of it; this is at the junction of rock and pop, and deserves to be loud and clear.

Four By Three is out on Specialist Subject today.

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