All Girl Summer Fun Band – 2 (K Records – KLP144CD)

The second album from these iced gems is called, cryptically, 2. Differences from the first album (which I LOVED!)? Well, it’s more grunty-distorto and less jangly-tambouriney. This is good because as good as the first album was, I didn’t want to hear a straight repeat. And, as good as the first one was, this one is better!

The winning elements from the first album are all there: great pop songs, sweet girly harmonies and lyrics that are unafraid to giggle. AGSFB are so good at what they do that they’re in danger of becoming archetypal. People are so going to rip-off their succinct, snappy, clever pop style.

Detractors may say this is what AGSFB have done themselves and, yeah, I can hear Talulah Gosh, The Flatmates and The Marine Girls in what they do but never is the heritage slavish or curator-like in the way that Dadrock is. They’ve shown this in the musical progression of 2. It would have been so easy to churn out an identikit jangly album that would have kept a lot of indie kids happy. But they’ve reached further.

Songs like ‘Inarticulation’ remind me as much of Buzzcocks as any girlpop great. But then you have ‘Dear Mr. & Mrs. Troublemaker’ where they come across as a snotty, fuzzed-out Shangri-Las, hyped-up on Pez and Jolt cola.

‘Video Game Heart’ wouldn’t be out of place on any Devo album and here AGSFB effortlessly integrate synth in a way that soooo many indie bands fail miserably at. It’s thrumming and boppy and… well… great!

So don’t write off this album as narrow or unadventurous, the common charge laid at the door of contemporary indie pop. Yes, AGSFB love short, explicit pop songs but I see that as a huge strength, not a weakness. In these times of sprawling prog-rock widdly excess, sticking on this album is like getting your ears syringed. You find yourself remembering what pop music was meant to be all about: TUNES! Give me a good chorus anyday over wanky experimentalism. I can’t imagine anyone who likes pop not being seduced by ‘Tour Heart Throb’ – it’s so rifftastic and you can shout ‘yeah yeah’ along with the backing vocals. Is there anything better?

Shall I tell you the main reason I love these songs? It’s because I can understand them. I don’t need a degree in comparative literature or a thesaurus or a headful of chemicals, they make sense just in themselves.

They tell me stories, they take me by the hand and lead me into their world, they sing to me. They’re as simple as the Beach Boys and as complex and layered as Motown – they’re great pop songs. Most of the dreary, drably “serious” rock bands lorded by the music press haven’t got enough collective brain cells to even consider the concept of a song like ‘Becky’ or would never be able to pull it off in such a pure, heartfelt manner.

Buy this album if you’ve ever liked any classic singalong pop songs or have ever sung along with a hairbrush in front of a mirror. Don’t buy this album if you’ve forgotten how to have fun and smile.

Goodbye Bzangy

A few minutes ago, I shut down my Bzangygroink forum. In the grand scheme of things, that means absolutely nothing. Compared with the death and horror in Iraq it means even less.

But when Bzangy was good, it held a tiny community of people, a lot of whom were scattered across the country and world. We talked crap, we organised meetings for the anti-war demos, we told very bad jokes, we planned nights out clubbing and gigging. Not earth-shattering stuff, but important to us.

It was a private forum not through exclusivity but because people were talking about their private lives and wouldn’t have opened up if they’d known any passing net stranger was stopping by for a vicarious thrill. But, apparently, when you make something private it becomes irresistible.

I don’t want to be a policeman. I don’t want to have to check IPs or have someone from another forum tell me that people I trusted are sharing their account details with absolute strangers. I had assumed, perhaps naively, that I could trust people to be responsible and respect each others’ privacy. I was mistaken.

So tonight, a little dream of mine died. And I guess a part of my optimism about human nature did too,
love and kisses,