Crank it, spank it • wear it out!
Okay, so you’ve all read the script before. A band from the ‘70’s who went on to have a fantastically huge hit in the late ‘80’s, then faded in the ‘90’s, only to now emerge again with their first studio album in 16 years. Yep, cynical reader I was thinking exactly what you are thinking when the new album, ‘Funplex’ by quirky camp/pop/rockers, The B-52’s came through my door.
Somewhere between nostalgia and a want to ridicule, I slipped the disc in to my CD player, and you know what? It’s actually not only acceptable, but actually very good! I know, I know, but really you have to listen to it yourself! Forget about ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Rock Lobster’ for a moment, as this album is packed full off catchy pop tunes with a rock-edge.
First song, ‘Pump’ has a funky electric beat before the drums and guitar kick in, “Mama’s dancing with jellybone // You better watch out // Take you to the freak zone” go the female vocals that go so well against the fantastically camp and nasal twang of Fred Schneider. Next song, ‘Hot Corner’ has Fred’s great voice kick in and it makes me smile every time, as he has a vocal conviction that is as distinctive as Tim Armstrong, Kurt Cobain or Liam Gallagher, not exactly the most tuneful but instantly recognisable. Building up into another middle of the road song, it is this that we find the norm here. This floods into the next song, ‘Ultraviolet’ which starts with the lyrics, “Spread your wild seed on fertile ground // Plug another feed to your crazy sound // Sky high hive you wind me tight // Sky high hive in the ultraviolet night!” It’s another great catchy pop/song with a nice riff and happy-clappy vocals.
‘Juliet Of The Spirits’ sounds a little bit like Blondie with more pop and chunkier basslines, and album title, ‘Funplex’ is another foot tapper, that the female vocals along with the song, ‘Deviant Ingredient’ sound like the band A Broken Heart Pro. All great stuff. However the album takes a sudden and despairing drop in fun and musical talent in the next two songs, ‘Eyes Wide Open’ and ‘Love In The Year 3000’. These are both the sort of things that my nightmares are made of, and great examples of the biggest crimes in music. We have robotic vocals, electro beats and an orgy of synthesizers circa 1981. Both are terrible and whereas ‘Eyes Wide Open’ has a very dated sound, ‘Love In…’ borders on Euro/pop straight out of Germany….Ahhhhhh!
Thankfully the aforementioned song, ‘Deviant Ingredient’ brings us back on track and stops me clicking my red heels together 3 times and hoping to be back home in Kansas. ‘Too Much To Think about’ has an strong ‘80s beat that is a couple of beats off of us singing about how Mickey is so fine that he blows our mind, coupled with a groovy guitar riff and vocal melodies and we have a nice tune. ‘Dancing Now’ doesn’t stand out from the rest particularly, whilst last song, ‘Keep This Party Going’ is a corker and my favourite here…!
So what else can we say about these legends? ‘Funplex’ has more than a handful of decent tracks that will satisfy the insatiable electro-pop-rock needs of most. Fans of the band will not be disappointed and with this album they seem to have the ability of not being a band to be embarrassed about liking. They are the original Scissor Sisters who can camp it up like the best of them. Crank it, spank it • wear it out!