On listening to bis, one can’t help feel the absurdity of 40-somethings pumping out the kind of absurd nonsense collected here on Music for Animations.
Recorded way back in 2004 for BBC kids show, BB3B, the record is by the band’s reckoning “their most pop-punk tunes ever”. Which is really going some, given their steadfast commitment to the quirky indie-pop niche they’ve made their stock in trade for 25 years.
Sci-Fi Steven, John Disco and Manda Rin first caught the UK underground’s attention with the Disco Nation 45 EP in 1995. Their sound hasn’t dramatically changed since, with the exception of a foray into electro-pop (see 2000’s Return to Central). bis are still very recognisable by their bouncy riffs and indie-disco heart.
On one hand you might admire their commitment to the DIY values that developed a cult following, one which also bagged them high profile support slots alongside Foo Fighters and Pavement but which has also kept them from ever reaching mainstream success.
Music for Animations follows their return with 2019’s Slight Disconnects via a deal with Glasgow label Last Night from Glasgow. The critical popularity of the album has given them confidence to release this latest collection. However, where last year’s effort had some polish, a bit of Popscene-esque Blur feels to it, this collection feels like it should have been left in Auntie’s archives with Dick and Dom, The Tweenies and Ed the Duck.
The album’s loose concept outlines humanity’s defense against an alien invasion. If this music were the first thing ET heard on approach, there’d be a swift three-point turn back to space.
If you like your music brain-meltingly neon with little substance, you might appreciate lines like the opening to Blow Your Mind: “Straight to the centre of your brain / nothing can stop the alien rain”.
Or this call to arms from It Must Be An Alien: “Goo dripping down the side of its face / grab that tommy gun and plug it up.”
On the plus side, the actual music is mostly danceable. Again, think early Britpop but jacked up on Dragon Soop and you get the idea.
However, given we’re going through a national lockdown and there are no clubs open to get smashed and dance in, you would have to be a borderline psychopath to want to put this on in the comfort of your own home.
Escapism in the form of music? Or a redundant, albeit energetic, collection of songs out of place and time? I’ll let others decide because the thought of listening through again has me hoping I’ll get abducted instead.