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The Bangles | Doll Revolution (Liberty/EMI)
Several girl groups and female-fronted bands of yesteryear have recently reappeared with strong product if not exactly earth shattering great art. Blondie, to be expected, had several fine moments and even the Go-Gos, never a big deal beyond the image and the scandal (in my book) made us pay attention. EMI have recently released a stream of great back catalogue material and just ace new acts. All the above lead me to expect much from the label's proud, new acquisition, The Bangles, but this album is a wasted opportunity. The group never attempted anything remotely new. They may have been a girly splash in the hip, so-called Paisley Underground of the '80s, a girly bash at recreating the high quality fun of '60s and '70s giants like their heroes Love, Byrds, Beatles, Soft Boys, Big Star, S&G etc., but they weren't attempting to be cutting-edge. It was simply that the songs were generally so great that we were instantly hooked to their tunes, to their hooks.
The album's first eight songs have left no impression after a dozen listens. Offer me a fortune and I could sing you not one chorus. Even track three, the single Something That You Said is as insipid as spent washing up water. This is all a shame as the girls sound in fine form, and their sound has hardly changed since the platinum 'Different Light. Nickel Romeo has a nice chorus but it is only at track nine, Here Right Now, that the old magic kicks in with a tune that makes the world a more beautiful one and a guitar line that the Byrds of '66 might have boasted about. The next song, the self explanatory Single By Choice, has an even better tune and the penultimate cut, Between The Two is a vintage dose of Bangles jangle that has a guitar line the Byrds probably would have boasted about. Many of the tracks, though, just feel like Bangles-flavoured Bangles. Like vanilla-flavoured ice cream it ain't always the real thing. Whatever, let's not finish on a sour note. Five or six strong Bangles songs are surely to be cherished in a musical landscape devoid of great songwriting but do hang on to that receipt.
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003