Coach Bombay – Pops

Coach Bombay is Terry Mann. Terry Mann is Coach Bombay. Now you know the truth. Melbourne producer Mann’s first album, Pops, may be inspired by Emilio Estevez’s ice hockey-driven tale of redemption, but more likely it’s just an upbeat, consistent pop album.

This is not dressed-up indie pop or electro-pop, though – Coach Bombay carries all the signifiers of universal, bubblegum pop. Believe it or not though, there is no sense of irony underpinning the project (if there was, do you think the album would open with a fictitious news theme?) – Pops is just an album about singing and dancing, designed to facilitate singing and dancing.

Curiously, it achieves its mission without any four-to-the-floor beats. Every beat is embedded with a groove: kick, then snare, then hi hats skittering and basslines bouncing – constant movement. It’s indicative of the level of Mann’s attention to detail, which is arguably his number-one attribute on Pops.

The Coach Bombay formula is simple: up-beat tempos, great lashings of synth candy, and hooks, hooks everywhere, all the time. Jumping, bursting rather than flowing, they require no investment: when that pneumatic synth line starts to lose its impact, outrageous harmonies burst into frame, just for funsies. That dream-sequence arpeggio? A bit much? No sweat. A big, brassy chorus is never far off. It’s all effortless, skilfully arranged, and a lot of fun.

Lyrics function more as hook delivery mechanisms than vice versa: Mann creates a teen fantasy-land, all furtive crushes and affirmations of the underlying wonder of the world. It’s a pretty spot-on match for the relentlessly upbeat music, but that’s like saying that red cordial is just as sweet as toffee. It’s true, but it’s not necessarily a great idea to gorge yourself on both. Which is why songs like ‘Radiator’ and ‘Waterfall’ represent album highlights; infused as they are with, respectively, a sense of urgency and weary melancholy that makes Mann feel more like human being and less like a pop cyborg.