- Hot off opening the Australian dates for American singer-songwriter Weyes Blood, Jack Ladder (stage alias for Tim Rodgers… not that one) drops his seventh studio album Tall Pop Syndrome. While previous albums had long, dramatic synth epics, Tall Pop Syndrome strips it all back and goes full synth-pop with all songs clocking in at less than four-and-a-half-minutes long. Whilst not indicative of his best work, Jack Ladder still manages to entice listeners with his Nick Cave-like croon and pulsing synthesisers.
The lead single Home Alone sets the mood for the whole album's theme of longing and trudging on through loss, not an uncommon thing for Ladder albums to feature (as well as having, so far this year's funniest lyric “Amy Winehouse is in my house”). While the album as a whole works well together and doesn’t stray far from its synth-pop leanings, this does let it get stale, with lyrical themes and production choices often repeated throughout. There is no better display of this than in the looping song structure which appears in track after track. Whereas looping chord progressions and parts can strengthen the meaning of songs in artists such as John Maus and George Clanton, for Ladder, because of his low croon and detached delivery, it can get tiring.
Despite this, Tall Pop Syndrome Still has some shining moments on it such as Heavy Weight Champion, where Its sequenced synth loop and repetition build to create a moody and somewhat hopeful atmosphere, a welcome change compared to the rest of what's on offer. Although it may seem like I don’t like this album, and while currently, that may be true, I'm still an eager Jack Ladder fan and am looking forward to hearing future albums as well as the imminent Australian tour; and hey, many of my favourite albums I didn’t like at first, so who knows?
- Alex Gibson.