bis - Social Dancing (Music CD)

Release Date: 01 December 2014
Artist: bis
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As Bis' career progressed, the band's music changed ever so slightly. (Somehow, the word "mature" seems singularly inappropriate as far as this trio is concerned.) The D.I.Y.-punk influences faded into the background as kandy-colored, trashy new wave-dance roots took hold. Simultaneously, the bandmembers' calls for Teen C Power rescinded, leaving them without any message, genuine or manufactured, outside of pop music and fun (or something along those lines). Nevertheless, when it came time to record its second album, Social Dancing, Bis teamed with producer Andy Gill, best known as part of the socialist post-punk band Gang of Four. Following its transformation from a band of underground activists to Casio-driven bubblegum practitioners, Bis turned into the kind of group that would have been in direct opposition to Gang of Four in the early '80s -- all the more ironic, since Gill's production makes Social Dancing sound uncannily like a period piece. That turns out to be a blessing, since his shiny retro sounds make the album go down, even when the trio's kiddie choruses deteriorate from charming to annoying. Consequently, the record is more cohesive than the band's debut, but it never feels relevant -- and at one point, that's what Bis was all about. Arriving at the tail end of Brit-pop, Bis' first EPs seemed fresh, original, part of a new zeitgeist. But since that zeitgeist was all about youth -- and the fact that the members of Bis were teenagers pining for the golden age of elementary school -- sealed the fate for the trio; Bis was of the moment in 1996, and when that year was gone, the band would never again sound hip or relevant. To their credit, they figured out how to move on, entrenching themselves within new wave, and they have made an album that's pretty entertaining. But that triumph is compromised somewhat by the fact that the album ultimately sounds as good and is as substantive as a Haysi Fantayzee record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Release Date: 01 December 2014
Artist: bis