Busted
A Present For Everyone
2003
C



it is, of course, the awkward-looking blonde one who is the genius behind Busted. And rest assured that I don’t use the word ‘genius’ lightly. Busted may appear to be nothing more than light-as-a-feather bubblegum teen punk-pop, but their simple formula of buzzing geetars, shouty choruses and peculiarly British adolescent irreverence (Blink 182 run through the streets naked, so what? Busted dress-up as old women and spank each other at fake weddings – I mean wtf?!) has made them very rich men before they’re even old enough to shave properly or drive themselves to gigs.

It’s pleasing that A Present For Everyone starts in exactly the same way as The White Album (airplane pans across soundstage, engine noise fades to be superseded by GEETARS), if only because of my bizarre desire for Busted to decide that their career arc from now on will mirror The Beatles in every way, covering every song, recreating each arrangement and reproducing every album in the same way that Pierre Menard attempted to rewrite The Quixote in one of Borges’ short stories. I somehow doubt that this will happen, but at the start of 1964 no one would have predicted the new shapes that John, George, Paul and Ringo would have twisted pop music into by the end of the decade.

Anyway. No longer dreaming about kissing their maths teachers or travelling into the future, Busted have grown up a touch, and are now jizzing over stewardesses (“Air Hostess” features the immortal couplet “I messed my pants / when we flew over France”), sabotaging nuptials (“Crashed The Wedding” – “it’s better than regretting” they chorus, echoing Butthole Surfers, Orbital, Magnolia and Sartre all at once), stalking you like a jilted lover turned serial killer (“3am” – “I don’t give a damn what you do / I’m gonna get with you / AGAIN” which is rendered quite terrifying by Charlie’s Eddie Vedder-gone-to-hell voice) and fantasising about making love beneath a waterfall in “That Thing You Do”. Half-a-dozen tracks are lavished with strings and/or acoustic guitars, and one number even starts like Green Day covering “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison, but the overriding ethos here is short, punchy, hook-laden and covered in loud GEETARS.

Busted’s violent refutation of their status as a pop group is intriguing; I’m not even sure whether they themselves know whether it’s tongue-in-cheek. They certainly write their own songs, play their own GEETARS and take home their own (sizeable) paycheques, but their close-harmonies, squeaky-clean image, teenage fanbase and puerile lyrics posit them some distance away from the rock credibility they’d appear to covet, and they know it. Indeed, they revel in it. One thing’s for sure though: the kids love ‘em.
Reviewed by: Nick Southall
Reviewed on: 2004-01-15
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