Music For a Stranger World
One of the biggest mistakes that the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label has made in recent memory was dropping the great Scots indie-pop trio Bis from their roster. If the label hasn't realized that yet, they're sure to when they hear the band's new EP, Music For a Stranger World. With Music, Bis further explore their new wave dance roots (as seen on past hits like "Tell It To the Kids"), wearing their influences boldly on their sleeves. The tracks on this EP could be lost music from The Human League, or maybe New Order, circa 1982-85. Somehow, though, Bis manage to do this without sounding dated in the slightest – the tracks burst with so much energy and enthusiasm that the EP sounds a lot fresher and more intelligent than the lion's share of today's pop music.
The EP kicks off with the rollicking "Dead Wrestlers." All percolating synths and ultra-smooth male-female harmonies, it's the perfect synthesis of all that's great about this EP. "Are You Ready?" has the foot-stomping feel of a sports anthem, ala Republika's "Ready To Go," except hookier and with more intelligent lyrics that betray the song's depth -- it's really way more than an anthem, but a stadium-full of people would never realize that. "How Can We Be Strange?," likewise, is a plea for tolerance under its slick, danceable sheen, and while it's more directed to nonconformity, its not much of a stretch to apply it to pleas to end racism/sexism/homophobia. "I Want It All" explores some Digital Hardcore-like territory without losing its pop sheen, while "Beats at the Office" is an indictment of corporate life that would have been right at home on Factory Records circa 1985. And all you snot noses that are whining that Bis don't belong on the predominately pop-punk Lookout! Records need to take a listen to the brilliant "Punk Rock Points," and then shut the fuck up ("Don't tell me what I should be listening to/'Cos if I like it I'll be screaming next to you/If it's a passion I'll go wherever I choose/Punk rock doesn't just belong to you.").
Frankly, the only bad thing about Music For a Stranger World is that it's not a full-length. I want more! This is a smashingly good slice of sunshine and wit that deserves to be the biggest hit of the year. Teen-C Power is alive and well!
Lookout! Records, 3264 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703; http://www.lookoutrecords.com; Bis Info, c/o Nicola, PO Box 3821, Glasgow, Scotland, G46 6JY; http://www.bisnation.com