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Ballboy | Club Anthems 2001 (SL Records)
It's only due to the fact that I trust the people who sent this to me that it wasn't filed in the part of my CD collection that gets to go on a truck journey every Wednesday. Everything screams 'annoying bleeps and horrid samples only enjoyed by drug addled and sun baked brains.' Well, almost everything. I somehow doubt that there'd be a dance track called I've Got Pictures Of You In Your Underwear, or Dumper Truck Racing. Instead, what you get - and this will be a great shock to any clubbers who pick this up by mistake - is a collection of this joyous Scottish band's first three EPs, plus some bonus tracks, opening with the Belle & Sebastian romp of Donald In The Bushes With A Bag Of Glue with its winsome vocals, but with a lyrical content that would have Half Man Half Biscuit laughing. There aren't the cultural references that HMHB litter their songs with though, instead we have the everyday, such as Public Park and its observation of people going about their mundane lives filled with dreams of being whisked away by beautiful supermarket staff. The desire to be able to do a perfect backflip is followed by a tirade against their homeland in I Hate Scotland, as if it would all be better if they had the ability to dive. More crushed dreams are explored in the (destined to be) classic, A Day in Space with it's spoken word delivery addressing the eagerness of the narrator to visit it, even dismissing the thought of training by informing us that all is required is "a couple of assault courses and a maths test". As usual, with such fun comes sadness and many of the songs have poignancy. Leave The Earth Behind You And Take A Walk Into The Sunshine is as beautiful as it should be, bathed in keyboards and a finale of crashing guitars, while Swim For Health has strings and a trumpet mourning as Gordon McIntyre pines that "Everything I have ever learned, I learned at the funerals of good men". They even make winning sound melancholic in Olympic Cyclist and that takes some doing. That Underwear song is pure, driving, pop though. Starting like The Smiths and rattling along at a frenzy, abetted by a plinky xylophone, although I doubt if Morrissey would sing about pants with such glee. If you were still in doubt that this might be an Ibiza tie-in album, then Sex Is Boring will put that to rest. It's a sparse affair and a fine way to close such an illuminating album, especially when he sings "I hate house music, because house music never meant anything to me". Clubbers beware, the rest, look out for it.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002