Fun Lovin’ Criminals : Loco

Apowdered pop pina colada with a double shot of pastiche.

This time Huey’s gotten cocky. He’s stopping traffic on a sweltering New York boulevard to plug his new single (and a dubious drink driving subtext) in a beer commercial. He’s getting [I]Baywatch[/I] bimbettes with floss for swimwear to waggle their cooch on the camera during the near pornographic video: a cross between [I]Starsky & Hutch[/I] and Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ without the gussets, with Huey cast as a millionaire playboy-cum-karate crimefighter. After five years at the top of the Cliché Police’s Most Wanted list the world’s favourite cartoon anti-hero just blew his cover.

That’s our perp, Huey FLC. Once the suave leader of the smoovest funk-pop gang to emerge from the posh bit just outside The Bronx, now he’s brazenly living the [I]Miami Vice[/I] smuggling tycoon [I]vida loca [/I]right down to the unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, and bloody big yacht off South Beach. That’s a dozen violations of the Mishandled Irony Act right there. Book ‘im, Danno.

The charges’ll never stick, though. On this third FLC album Huey’s swapped Bobby DeNiro in [I]Goodfellas[/I] for Ray Winstone in [I]Sexy Beast[/I],

but he’s done so with such panache and high camp that there isn’t a jury that’d convict.

“I met the finest girl of my life that night”, Huey husks over the horizontal groove of ‘Bump’ before the red indian from the Village People sticks his head-dress through the cigar smoke to gruffly chant “AT GAY NIGHT!” .

Musically, ‘Loco’ is a regression further into the murk of ’70s soul-funk where the wah-wah was king and striking a vibraphone was considered an act of foreplay. From the romantic (‘She’s My Friend’, ‘Swashbucklin’ In Brooklyn’, ‘Half A Block’) to the plain randy (‘My Sin’, er, ‘Dickholder’), Huey cruises his furrow as Grandmaster Flash doing top grade white lines with consumate ease. The few stylistic detours are inadvisable – ‘Where The Bums Go”s riff-heavy attempt to be Rocket From The Spliff is novelty while ‘Kill The Bad Guy’ is frankly appaling, essentially The Sugarhill Gang loading up on poppers and slowly dismembering the Big Bopper. They steer a thoroughly pleasant, tongue-stapled-into-cheek loungecore album worryingly close to being The Barron Knights for bad guys, but even these suit the spirit of ‘Loco’: a powdered pop pina colada with a double shot of pastiche. Run, Huey, run.

Mark Beaumont