New Granada Records
Hey, we’re getting the band back together!
That line has been a pretty reliable punch line in movies and commercials. It’s usually meant to ridicule men going through some sort of mid-life crisis. The folks in Tampa based band, Pohgoh are not a joke though. It’s been 21 years since the band called it a day. They had a good run, putting out some singles, having their song “Friend X” anchor the first volume of the Emo Diaries compilation series and releasing a full-length CD (posthumously). The members never gave up on music through. Pohgoh staged periodic, one-off reunion shows over the years. Something clicked after the 20th anniversary show. The passion to create new music ignited again. Pohgoh is back.
“When we fell apart, it was worse than my first broken heart,” Susie Ulrey sings. The line is from “Try Harder”, which is about the band’s rebirth. “You’ve got me looking at the bright side again. This time I’ll try a little harder. This time, let’s look a little farther,” sets out the band’s reason to exist and their ambitions. It’s not an empty boast. Pohgoh come out swinging with something to prove and powerful stories to tell.
Normally, a song like “Business Mode” with its lyrics about falling down are metaphorical. Susie Ulrey is being quite literal. It’s a song about her 15-plus year battle with multiple sclerosis. Many of the songs on Secret Club deal with living with a chronic disease. “Business Mode” is about worrying about being a burden to others. (“You look shocked and sad and scared… Never want to see that look on your face again”). “Who’s The You” illustrates the battle between Susie and a body that sometimes seems to have it’s own plans. In this case, it’s her legs that don’t want to keep still at night. “Super Secret Club” is about being with others going through the same struggles. “Everything is not ok. None of us with ever be the same.”
All of these stories are wrapped in crunchy, power pop, post-emo sounds. Matt Slate and Susie play power chords and melodic leads. Keith Ulrey’s percussion and Brian Roberts bass often come to the fore on many tunes where they contribute a hook or melody line. Producer J. Robbins did a great job capturing a clear, clean, muscular sound. Pohgoh’s second act is a band taking everything they’ve learned over the past 21 years and using it to make them a stronger, better band. As Susie sings on “Bunch”, “It’s never going to be the right time to try. I lose battles but I win wars.”