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BMX Bandits | Down At The Hop (Shoeshine)
The boot-fair portrait of Brigitte Bardot surrounded by puppies (by Stereo Total's Francoise Cactus) on the low-key cover is hardly the most impressive way to reintroduce Glasgow's BMX Bandits, back with their first full-length since 1996's 'Theme Park' but, thankfully, the contents reflect little on the packaging. Stripped-down to a three-piece line-up, mainstays Duglas T. Stewart and Francis Macdonald welcome Argentinian guitarist Gabriel Telerman back into the fold, with a handful of guests, including ex-Bandit Norman Blake. 'Down At The Hop' bears a sonic resemblance to Macdonald's recent Sauchiehall & Hope, albeit one now sharing the spotlight with Stewart's peculiar lyrical slant (as Macdonald says on the band's site, "I don't know anyone else who could come up with Miss Nude Black America") and idiosyncratic delivery. The songs are largely light and airy pop ditties, with nods to the West Coast and Wilson, tempered by Stewart's deadpan Britishness. Macdonald pulls the musical strings, handling a host of instruments, takes lead vocals during the album's 'second act' and writes or co-writes all but three of the album's fourteen tracks. Francis has called 'Down At The Hop' his favourite BMX Bandits record, and the most consistent, and fans will likely agree.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003