Best Pop Band: Iji

The state of pop is a curious one these days. Cher, 67, is pop. Cee Lo is pop. Alan Thicke’s son is pop. Perimeters roam free as long as your tunes are catchy. Yes, pop is getting strange, but if Lady Gaga is any indication, that’s what we like. In the genre’s growing—and often weird—sub-ranks is the music of Zach Burba and his band Iji. Its bright, breezy contributions to the oeuvre—especially on its latest release, Soft Approach—combine Burba’s androgynous vocals with sun-kissed bossa nova rhythms and whimsical instrumentations that borrow more from the songbook of off-kilter bards like Bill Callahan or Cass McCombs than from the Lumineers. It’s weird, all right. And catchy as hell. I heard about a show where they made milkshakes onstage and passed them out to the crowd. Is freak pop a genre? It should be.

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