Album Review – Pottery: Welcome to Bobby’s Motel

Pottery – Welcome to Bobby’s Motel

The latest offering of post-punk revivalism from Partisan Records comes in the form of Welcome to Bobby’s Motel, the debut album from Montreal based five-piece Pottery, who made waves in 2019 thanks to the release of their EP No. 1, as well as touring alongside label-mates Fontaines DC and American art-punks Parquet Courts.

Listening through Bobby’s Motel, it’s evident that the latter left a strong impression on the band, who have enlisted the production talents of Jonathan Scheneke, who worked on Parquet Courts brilliant 2018 album Wide Awake! From this, it makes sense that Wide Awake and Bobby’s Motel both share a playfulness in approach to genre and performance, and in just under forty minutes Pottery toy around with elements of groovy dance rock and spiky post-punk, adding flourishes of disco and glimpses of psychedelic rock, with an impressive degree of consistency.

I say impressive and not perfect, as Pottery’s genre gear changes occasionally work against them, resulting in the flow of a song stalling and preventing it from reaching its full potential. Thankfully, there are twice as many instances where this is not the case, the foremost being the sizzling Hot Heater, which breaks out of its relatively straightforward first half and convulses into a glorious dance-rock freak-out that echoes Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads, another influence detected running throughout Bobby’s Motel.

From then onwards Pottery don’t let up, possessing an infectious energy and a palpable sense of sweltering performance (appropriate for the many references to heat and temperature), the band rarely stop for breath aside from Reflection and the sweet dream-pop ballad finale Hot Like Jungle.

As for themes, you’d be forgiven to believe at first glance Pottery were releasing a narrative album but that’s not the case; Bobby and his titular motel are less literal figures and more metaphors for human existence, the grit and grime and the exuberant shade of joy in the face of often overpowering shadow. In the release notes it’s described as ‘an all-encompassing alternative reality that the band have built themselves, for everyone else’ which does read as an excuse to throw as much as possible at the wall to see what sticks and have the most fun in doing so. The good thing is the last part cannot be disputed, Bobby’s Motel is packed with quick tempoed tunes that are undeniable in their ability to literally move the listener; try and sit still during Hot Heater, Texas Drums Pt 1&2 and Bobby’s Forecast and prepare to fail miserably.

It’s the albums strongest component, that even in the moments where the transitions fail to click or when a chorus lacks a solid punch, it’s still projected with the kind of compelling energy that you’d only find in a jam session gone wild, a band caught up in the moment, which despite sounding tedious, makes Welcome To Bobby’s Motel a joyous listen for the most part.

Welcome to Bobby’s Motel is out tomorrow via Partisan Records; you can order the album in various formats here and listen to Hot Heater below.

Review by Ryan Bell

25th June 2020