...Gone are the hairgrips and smiles, in comes facial hair...
In which the loveable cartoon characters, having passed awkwardly through adolescence, set out on a big adventure to uncover their personalities and rethink that first, impetuous manifesto. Gone are the hairgrips and smiles, in comes facial hair, shoulder-baring dresses and, bizarrely enough, Casio watches that play ‘Kandy Pop’. It’s the sassy, sexy Bis; the well-travelled, media-savvy, look-we’re-serious [a]Bis[/a]. And it might just work, if only they didn’t feel so guilty about it.
Back in the day, you’ll recall, [a]Bis[/a] rallied brilliantly against the injustices of the music industry, took it on and, to an extent, won on their own terms. Musically, though, [a]Bis[/a] went from cute to annoying to likeable but irrelevant, as their fans took heed of their advice and listened to Digital Hardcore records instead. Now we’re faced with an older and certainly wiser Bis (which partially defeats the point from the outset), but a Bis whose conscience is pricked by actually having ‘made it’. In Japan, at any rate. Hence ‘Social Dancing’ and lots of songs about being a product, The Future, and those identity crises 20-year-olds endure.
Hence, too, a record that sounds unlike anything else at the moment. Rather, it sounds like it was recorded in 1983, which is probably what you get if your producer – Gang Of Four‘s Andy Gill – last enjoyed success in the early-’80s. A major problem, then, not least because Les Rythmes Digitales appears to have the nouveau-’80s market sewn up, but also because such weak pastiche is at odds with [a]Bis[/a]’ enthusiasm for the 21st century.
Still, on the rare occasions when they’re not copying Bow Wow Wow (‘Theme From Tokyo’) or ripping out Blondie‘s heart (‘The Hit Girl’), we learn that [a]Bis[/a] have soul. One is the euphoric ‘Eurodisco’, the other ‘Detour’, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Method Man & Mary J Blige‘s ‘All I Need’. And then? Well, then more well-produced shouty pop.
“Pop music’s not gonna die, it just has no direction”, they rant on ‘Action And Drama’. Quite right, but you won’t find many solutions here.