Single Of The Week 01/03/99

Single Of The Week is where I review a single I'm particularly enamoured of at the moment. It might be a brand spanking new release, or a classic from decades past that I just feel like going on about.


There was a time, in the tasteless post-grunge wash that swept over the first half of this decade, when sounding like an early 80s synth-pop band would pretty much skewer your credibility on a permanent basis. There was an incredible amount of hypocrisy involved here; after all, charts throughout Europe were regularly being topped by dance bands whose synth-heavy bass beats could trace a path straight back through Stock-Aitken-Waterman and the Human League, and no-one accused them of being behind the times. Nonetheless, the accepted wisdom was that synths were bad, guitars were good and what did they think they were wearing, anyway?

Thankfully, there's been a major shift in this attitude in the past couple of years, as people have recognised that there's nothing wrong (and everything right) with that particular era. It probably also reflects the fact that people of my age (and a little younger) are now old enough to have serious commercial influence, but never mind the reason, let's welcome the trend.

On a mass pop-cultural level, The Wedding Singer can be seen as marking a watershed in the accepting the return of the decade the Rubik's cube never forgot. In Australia, the most obvious musical example of this influence can be seen in work produced by Magoo for bands such as Regurgitator and Custard. And then there's 'Eurodisco' by Bis.

Despite its lyrics being a not-very-veiled attack on 15-minutes-of-fame types who fit into a bodysuit better than a melody, the reference points for this record are all classic early 80s pop: Duran Duran, Human League, B-52s, even Altered Images. I'd only been oh-so-marginally aware of Bis before I purchased this record; I don't know if the fascination will last past the single, but it's a major achievement regardless. They also get major bonus points for (a) including the lyrics (b) including three entirely different songs and (c) putting the single on sale in a standard CD jewel case. You've gotta love it.

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