The Pop Ups are not your average all-ages band. Aside from their highly theatrical and interactive live performances, the Brooklyn-based group, comprised of Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein, distill complex and abstract concepts into palatable, pleasing tunes. On their lead single “Time” from their upcoming fifth album Giants of Science, the duo tackle the universal pressures of passing time.
“We were like ‘Wouldn’t it be sick if we could write a kid’s song about relativity and time dilation?’” Rabinowitz tells Billboard. “It wound up [that] the simplest way of talking about time and its fluidity and its subjectivity was … when you’re having fun, time flies, and that’s an actual way to time travel.”
“Time feels weird to all of us,” Stein adds. “We’re always looking for the point at which something vast becomes personal, and I think that’s where you connect.”
The Grammy-nominated artists (for 2012’s Radio Jungle and 2014’s Appetite for Construction) approach topics with a “loosely curricular process” that involves consulting experts in field of the song’s subject, but they often tend to use a songwriting style more akin to Iggy Pop.
“Just boiling something down to the most basic, simple explanation was his path and I guess that was kind of ours as well,” Rabinowitz explains.
The method helps temper their boundless imagination, which Stein describes by painting a scenario of being in a studio and opening doors until you find one that leads to outer space. The hypothetical situation illustrates “trying to find the doorway in a song to the most profound, craziest ideas or questions that we have, and we find kids respond to that as well.”
“Time” encapsulates this idea by taking the finite minutes of the day and expanding it to find the spaces in between that encourage meaningful ways to spend the day. At the core of every Pop Ups song is a sincere drive to give the listeners an all-encompassing message, which is an intention they grasp wholeheartedly on Giants of Science.
“The times we’re living in in America in 2018, having an album about science becomes a tacitly political act,” Rabinowitz says. “Part of [the album] is examining what science is and how do we know it, and part of it is a call to action for kids and anyone to engage with their world and change it in any way they can.”
The Pops Ups are giving that first helpful tip to making change just by changing the perspective on how time works, and they’ve got the science to back it up.
Giants of Science will be available everywhere May 18. The duo will also host a record release show at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City on May 20 that will serve as their first performance with a full band. Event information and tickets can be found here.
Check out “Time” exclusively on Billboard below