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Chumbawamba
WYSIWYG
(Republic/Universal)


Chumbawamba, those crazy anarchists who brought us the intelligent yet annoying anthem "Tubthumping" are back again with another collection of rants and raves about society. WYSIWYG (which means "what you see is what you get") finds the band spouting off about anything and everything from Woodstock to junkies and the favorite topic of religion. They also make sure we understand that the capitalists and the non-thinking of the world are trying to hold us down. Damn the man!! But not so fast...it doesn't stop there.

In addition to the myriad of topics that they discuss, Chumbawamba dabble in multiple music styles. "Smart Bomb" is based in a techno heavy, and dare I say, disco progression with riffing bass and horns a-blazing. You almost overlook the message. "I'm Coming Out" is a mix of That Dog styled vocal harmonies and a multi-layered old British backbeat roots. The overtly thick orchestra samples create a thick melange of claustrophobic sound. A twisted surf-based guitar opens "I'm In Trouble Again" before horns and keyboards take the song somewhere else. The swinging rhythm makes you wanna groove. Those vocal harmonies are also roping me too. They dabble with country stylings on "Celebration, Florida" and "Social Dogma." The band uses traditional structure and even brings in a tight pedal steel. Male vocals lead the spoken "Pass It Along." The huge chorus vocals border on being cheezy, but somehow stay on this side of the fence. The short "Moses With A Gun" is a little skiffle tune directed at the venerable Charlton Heston. On another tangent, "Shake Baby Shake" is a wonderful light Brit-pop tune augmented by some smooth horn work. "Hey Hey We're The Junkies" is a large rave up complete with sloganeering and the occasional seventies groove. If you dig that movie music kind of thing, check out "The Standing Still" could be a little ballad from a movie...if it wasn't for the anti-suburban rhetoric. They even cover the thoughtful "New York Mining Disaster 1941" a wonderful lament penned by the pre-disco Bee Gees (yep, they were hippies before the white suits.) This is a beautiful tune to be sure. The record is chock full o' gems like this interspersed with multiple samples and vocal snippets. Many of the tunes are short blasts lasting just a minute or so...just long enough to make a point. In another point, the liner notes proudly proclaim (besides their political rants) "We nicked some stuff from Negativeland's "Helter Stupid" album. Ta!" Damn the man, indeed!

You may have noticed that I left a lot of the politics out of the song descriptions. Reason being is that Chumbawamba do such a swell job of creating great tunes that you get lost in those and overlook the message. I reckon that's why people sometimes accuse them of being hokey. For some reason, this record reminds me of the diversity on Yo La Tengo's I Can Feel The Heart Beating As One. I'm actually gonna come right here and endorse this new Chumbawamba record. I didn't really expect too. If you're looking for another "Tubthumping," you're not gonna find it here. What you will find here is a diverse record that is actually quite an immense pleasure to listen to.

-tom topkoff

Track Listing:
1. I'm With Stupid
2. Shake Baby Shake
3. Pass It Along
4. Hey Hey We're The Junkies
5. The Health & Happiness Show
6. I'm Coming Out
7. I'm In Trouble Again
8. Social Dogma
9. WWW Dot
10. New York Mining Disaster 1941
11. I'm Not Sorry, I Was Having Fun
12. Jesus In Vegas
13. The Standing Still
14. She's Got All The Friends
15. Ladies For Compassionate Lynching
16. Celebration, Florida
17. Moses With A Gun
18. The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Jerry Springer
19. Smart Bomb
20. Knickers
21. Lie Lie Lie Lie
22. Dumbing Down



 


Brett Newski



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