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The Wondermints | Bali (Neosight)
Several or nearly all styles with Americana are fully accepted and enjoyed within the UK. Power-pop, of the sunny LA variety, on the other hand, is still the ignored, unmentionable freak brother, omitted from or hidden at the back of the family portrait. If the intention of the likes of Baby Lemonade, The Negro Problem and wacky scene-leaders The Wondermints is to take a retro romp through that pop paradise that was LA circa 1967, let it not blind us to their original talents. Big fan, Mike Myers, used them on the Austin Powers soundtrack ?? maybe a less cost prohibitive introduction, all three 'Mints albums are available on import only ?? and, listening to Bali, I'm reminded of the Springfield psychiatric patient that Homer befriends who believes he is Michael Jackson. This band don't just dig Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson or John Barry they darn near become them though the tunes are clearly their own. There's also fond regard for apparent for the stylings of The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Grapefruit (!) and ELO. In fact quite a cornucopia to digest. But a couple of careful listens reveal very little filler and loadsa highlights. Wanderlust is Syd Barrett and Dave Gilmour trying to freak us all out. My Id/entity is the great missing song from The Doors' Soft Parade. What is also worth knowing is that not only are these Wondermints cleverer than you by half, they are also mischievously funny and quite mad. Final and title song Bali and the eighty-six (that's right) following 'hidden' tracks of Pacific surf noise (which include one primitive, crackly radio commercial for Marine Boy?!?) will be a humorous or uneasy slip into the Twilight Zone. The cover art is a hoot too. Why don't Xfm play records like this?

Stephen Ridley
CWAS #4 - Winter 1998/9 - The Lost Issue