Late last month, the Morning Benders shed their old name which, much to their consternation, had homophobic connotations in UK slang-speak, and adopted a new name, Pop Etc.
Hmm, okay. While finding a good name for the San Francisco-born band (now residing in Brooklyn) might not be the trio's forte — bassist Tim Or has departed since 2010's Big Echo — the group does have a new album due out June 12 (June 11 in the UK) via Rough Trade. The band, veterans of a TAS in Session back in 2010, even recruited Danger Mouse for some production guidance, not entirely surprising since the Morning Benders did tour with Broken Bells.
In a long explanation on their website, remaining members Chris Chu, Jon Chu and Julian Harmon revealed why they discarded the band's old name, despite significant success over the course of two albums. In an interview with Pitchfork, Chris Chu said that it's not just a moniker change, but an entirely new sound that will define Pop Etc, giving the trio license to tread through territory they'd never explored as the Morning Benders, leaning on blithely mainstream influences like Boyz II Men and Madonna.
Chu admits to Pitchfork that he's not entirely sure how former Morning Benders fans will cozy up to Pop Etc's very different and, well, far poppier sound. "It's something I struggle with a lot," says Chu. "We're just so grateful to have our fans. But in the end, I don't feel like I need to necessarily work to give them something that will please them. I can't really think about that. If I did, the results would be some watered-down attempt at 'Excuses', or whatever it is that people want from me."
Decide for yourself. Below are two tracks from the upcoming debut album from Pop Etc, "Halfway to Heaven" and "Everything Is Gone."