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Fortuna Pop!

this is a record borne of a great deal of time spent indoors. There are no songs about girls—at least, not in the modern sense of “songs about girls”—or politics or sex or anything else that has a great deal to do with the real world in any way. This is good. Bearsuit are a band that live off their own imaginations, and they do a fantastic job of it too.

“Bearsuit Space Hotel” is the opener, consisting of some Japanese people talking in Japanese about Bearsuit. They pause. “EH???”

Then you get a sort of celestial intro taking over, much echoed choral ahh-ing and so on and so forth and big heavy drums and so on. Hello to Bearsuit, goodbye to recording fidelity…

Bearsuit have songs that are fast. Bearsuit have songs that are slow. Bearsuit do not have any songs that make any sense. “Cookie Oh Jesus” is next. Bearsuit return the greetings with crashing guitar fuzz and wobbly trumpet. Then they unleash the vocalists.

Iain Ross is a scrawny bugger with Graham Coxon glasses and too much hair. He sounds like it too, half English bedsit indie dazer, half English bedsit indie howler.

Lisa Horton is a twee girl, a sort of East Anglian Manda Rin if you will, except with a nice, gentle voice, except when she starts shouting. Most of the time, though, she’s cooing and chirping, “la la la” or “ooh wee ooh” or something.

Together, they’re really quite something. “Cookie Oh Jesus” sets the scene, Ross dropping lyrics along the lines of “Are you here to distract us from our covering of hearts? / Outside the Aurora Borealis warms our hearts”, Horton backing it up with the ahs and oohs, while in the background the rest of the band Mentalise But With Tune.

I’ve not quite explained it yet, have I?

Well, that’s alright, cos here’s “Rodent Disco” to do it for me. So far, you may think, I could be talking about any indie band at all ever. No. “Rodent Disco” could not have been done by just any old indie band. “Rodent Disco”’s first minute and a half is divine, indie-pop like you haven’t heard it in bloody ages, and possibly haven’t wanted to hear it in bloody ages. Opening: scratchy indie-hammer guitaring. Then electric, then Horton who is singing words I can’t make out in semi-staccato— “dee, da, dee, da, Dee, da, doh, da…” Ross in the background occasionally yells what could be “SHAKE!” or “GET DOWN!”, then chorus:

And you know the disco rules
Look at the strobe lights
(ooh woohee wooh)
As they flash in time –


But a lot faster than that reads.

(THE DFA – If you stopped being so feeble you could have so much more!)

“Rodent Disco” is fast and furious but not The Fast And The Furious. My brothers were watching The Matrix Revolutions last night, and I imagined that, instead of using crashingly over the top orchestral k-bollocks to soundtrack the CLIMACTIC BATTLE, they used “Rodent Disco” instead. That’d have won Oscars, that would.

Anyway—none of that is the key to this. The key is the bit one and a half minutes into “Rodent Disco”, when sing-a-long indie thrashing judders to a halt. A second’s pause. Then the tune is resumed on a lone monotone indie keyboard for thirty seconds before it ends. Now, if any other band of any description were to do that, you’d be thinking they were pretentious wanks for sabotaging a fantastic pop tune that you were just getting into and slapping on some farty keyboard bit. But not when Bearsuit do it. Bearsuit are a band who, try as they might, just cannot play it straight. Verse-chorus-verse-chorus—why bother, when you can make so many more interesting deviations along the way? Bearsuit are playing at it, but not arsing it about. So when they drop the tune and switch to the keyboard, you go with them.

Bearsuit are indie, which nobody can deny. Bearsuit just happen to be one fuck of a lot better at being indie than anyone has been for a while—they’re twee, certainly, but with none of the preciousness. They’re indie for the reasons people start liking indie in the first place—cos they’re different. They don’t fit with the real world at all. Instead, they’ve got their own real world, a sort of assumed reality if you will, a guess at what the world might be like. This the tour of that world, a ride that keeps you guessing all the way, and which achieves the remarkable feat of having nothing but pleasant surprises. Most of which can be danced to really badly.

Reviewed by: William B. Swygart
Reviewed on: 2004-05-05
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