90s Perfect Popsters Make ‘Great Comeback Album’ (To No One’s Surprise)…
Review by Tony Rounce
Can it really be almost 25 years since Bis burst forth from Glasgow to brighten up the second half of the ‘90s with their boisterous and exciting take on Indie Pop? Well yes, it can, and it is – and here are Bis’ two loud men and one equally loud woman, a quarter of a century on and multiple break ups and reformations later, with a spiky, sparkly new album that’s more than a match for the musical achievements of their youth.
The signs that “Slight Disconnects” was going to be top notch were there for all to witness at Bis’ superb London shows at the Lexington, towards the end of last year. New tunes premiered that sounded every bit as good as past Bis classics ‘Action And Drama’ and ‘Sweet Shop Avengerz’, and that made the crowds want to dance just as much as their greatest hits did.
The new album reaffirms that Amanda ‘Manda Rin’ MacKinnon, John Clark (formerly John Disco) and Sci-Fi Steven (also a Clark) have not forsaken their past for the sake of any unnecessary musical progression, and that Bis are still as great at whipping up those short, sharp and shiny musical confections as they always were.
The pulsating adrenaline rush of the album’s powerful opener ‘Sound Of A Heartbreak’ is definitive vintage Bis – no more, no less. It’s followed by nine more superbly constructed pop confections of varying shapes, sizes and tempos – all with more hooks than a curtain rail, and most of them sounding like potential hit singles. The lyrics may be a little light on social gravitas when compared to a lot of what’s currently out there but, while purposeful and meaningful songs are always welcome round my way, we all have times when it feels good just to put on an album and throw yourself around the living room with reckless abandon.
I can’t think of a better current long player to do that to than this one.
With so many delights on offer it’s difficult to pick only a couple for those of you who like to taste and try before they buy, but personal favourites here include the aforementioned ‘Heartbreak’ the mostly-Manda led beater ‘Dracula, You Broke My Heart’ and an XTC-like ‘Combination Rock’ that said group’s own former front man Andy Partridge would have been delighted to have written. There may only be around 30 minutes of music here, but believe me when I say that not one of those minutes has been wasted.
Bis have grown up, but they have not grown old, and “Slight Disconnects” is as relevant a release as you will hear all year. Without wanting to really call it a comeback (particularly as individually they have never really been away) Bis’ return to the studio, and what has come out of it, can only be good for everyone who likes proper Pop.
Strictly the Bis-ness!