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BOYRACER – A punch up the bracket (CD) / Punker than you since ’92 (2CD) / BEATNIK FILMSTARS – In great shape (CD)

Posted: October 3rd, 2006, by Simon Minter

I’m mentioning these three releases in one go here, as in my mind Boyracer and Beatnik Filmstars are irreconcilably connected. They were two of the bands that throughout the early to mid-nineties helped to develop my musical listening into directions away from the pure indie-pop I was obsessing about beforehand. Both bands have their roots very firmly in indie-pop; Beatnik Filmstars springing from the ashes of the dearly missed Groove Farm, and Boyracer being a mainstay of the fanzine/cassette scene that was so healthy at the time. And both bands are still producing music now, albeit with a more ‘relaxed’ frequency of releases.

Beatnik Filmstars’ ‘In great shape’ is their first album in seven years and continues in their familiar, but effortlessly enjoyable style of previous releases. Lo-fi guitar sounds, sardonic-sounding lyrics and the odd (and unfortunately, slightly dated-sounding) samples are smashed together with an unquestionable sense of melody and pop perfection. This is a band that have gone through a variety of phases in their career – from the early shoegazing of ‘Maharishi’, through the angrified ‘Laid back and English’ and the bizarro ‘Astronaut house’ to the current reversion to pop simplicity of this album. It’s almost the Groove Farm played through a slightly bitter, slightly experienced filter – quick glimpses of songs flit by in the 23 tracks here, interspersed with more reflective moments and the odd foray into lo-fi dance irony. Whilst there’s a lot to take in here, and I feel that some of the more throwaway tracks could have been, well, thrown away, it’s hard not to like Beatnik Filmstars at their fizzing best. Fortunately there’s still enough of that here to make me happy.

Boyracer’s musical trajectory started with noise-drenched pop songs, the feedback and scream-drenched days of their early singles calming down into a gliding style (yet still covered in feedback) as on ‘More songs about frustration and self-hate’, then experimenting a little in their own way before maturing into a pure, modern-style indie-pop band. ‘A punch up the bracket’ solidifies Boyracer’s status as an international pop band – rushing through 21 tracks that take in the American-style pop often released on labels like Slumberland and the band’s own 555, cutesy Japanopop with cutesy synths and squawked, girly vocals, and what used to be known as ‘perfect pop’ when it was coming out of France, Bristol, Scotland and indeed everywhere some years ago. Like with the Beatnik Filmstars, it’s all held together with an undeniable charm and a distinctive style.

Both albums are a welcome respite from the RAGE and ANGER that seems so connected with modern independent music these days…

555 Recordings
Beatnik Filmstars

Footnote one: I’m erasing the memory of a recent Beatnik Filmstars Oxford show from my mind, lest in damages my long-held love of the band. Seeing them looking tired and bored whilst dragging themselves through a short set in front of ten people isn’t, perhaps, the best way to experience them.

Footnote two: The 75-track compilation (75 tracks!) ‘Punker than you since ’92’ is somewhat essential to me, being in equal doses an enormous hit of nostalgia – with all of the songs on those old 7″s and flexis that I rarely dig out these days – and an impressive overview of a band that’s managed to keep it together for more than fifteen years.

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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