The Children of the Pope—judging from the band’s name alone, you know you’re in for something good. Taking “fucking hallelujah!” as their slogan, they describe themselves as a “…religious group from South America and Europe currently based in London.” The band’s intense love for “…dirty guitars, manic shouting, and surrealist melodies,” culminates in just the sort of sound that would have gone over big at the Troubadour in ’68, and holds audiences spellbound today. The band’s rise since their formation in 2018 (in the “grimiest parts of South London,”) has been meticulously documented on video and film by Lou Smith, and they’ve shared stages alongside the likes of Insecure Men, Brian Destiny, and Honkies.
Their latest single “Junkie Girlfriend” is out today on Isolar Records. At first listen, it’s a tune that manages to be simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Opening with jangling guitar and backing vocals reminiscent of early Beatles stuff, the Parlophone sessions …but no, wait, breaking away in a sharp shout from the sha-la-las come lyrics to shatter the illusion of finding comfort in nostalgia because here we are again, in the same old narcotic mess, the girl with the golden arm and the needle sticking out of it.
Beneath the upbeat vocals, the neat, almost martial drums, the jangling tambourine and bright guitar trailing down like drops of mercury, it’s all fun and games until somebody shoots a mainline, as the narrator notes of his paramour’s coping mechanism: “the way you smile at me/when you find your vein again.” Rather than getting tangled up in typical romantic tropes, the lyrics offer a gritty perspective into a fraught relationship and all the vacillations and sadly unanswerable questions that go with it: “What can I do/Over you?”
Have a look at the band’s manifesto:
Take it seriously or snap your fingers at it, react as you please, but, have a think. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle—are we still in the thick of it? Its plot still a daily truth for millions? Sure. It’s prescient as hell, always has been. Even before it was written it was true. We’ve been post-Eden longer than memory reaches; it gets a little tiring, out here in the moral desert. To find such substance, such brazen intention, in a rock n’ roll outfit during an era when minds have become so collectively warped that it’s somehow considered acceptable to call Maroon 5 a rock band, is a welcome oasis indeed. As Pete Townshend said: “All good art cannot help but confront denial on its way to the truth.” Denial is a real blood sport these days, and the Children of the Pope are confronting it head-on, in the quest for some kind of truth. It’s out there somewhere. We just gotta keep looking for it.
“Junkie Girlfriend” is out today on Isolar Records. You can listen to (and buy!) the single at the link below. https://childrenofthepope.bandcamp.com