Share BOSOM - Bosom (self released)
When people ask me (and they actually do) what makes a good band, I inevitably point to one ingredient; the songs. The best guitarist in the world can only add sugary floss to the freshly laid turd of a dreary song. You can sing like Iggy Pop but, if your lyrics stink, you simply sound like a dork. (Think of all the times Iggy has made a dork out of himself and it’s always in a poorly written contact fulfilling filler song.) Good songwriting makes you bullet proof. That’s why cover bands are so popular. Low rent hack musicians who clear rooms with alarming ease when left to their own creative devices can keep a room a rocking off of the back of a well chosen repertoire. Meanwhile, a guy who can barely sing or play can enthrall an audience when he puts those chords in the right order. It really is that simple.
So, why have I brought this up now? Bosom have great songs and great songs can hold up to mistreatment. Unfortunately, that is kind of what has happened here. Don’t get me wrong. I like this album. I’ve listened to it a lot. The thing is, this disc sounds like Bosom with all the Bosom taken out of it. Let me explain. Bosom live is a grand experience. They are frantic, savvy and hip. Singer Wiz Trail riffs off of her natural shyness and transforms into a glorious take no prisoners stage monster. Each song becomes a three act play of desperation, anarchy and that feeling of being the other. On disc, she has been robbed of her greatest asset; her audience. The notes are sung clearly and cleanly. It still works but I do miss the edge of hysteria that accompanies the live performance.
There are good reasons for this. Once you get into a studio, there is a lot of pressure to get every note perfect. The engineers discourage you from performance. Wrapping shields around microphones, they tell you to stand here or there and don’t move. They pull the take out from underneath you and tell you that they’ll just do that bit again because their little VU needles are feeling a little tetchy today. Thanks to Internet crossfire, I also know Bosom were acting reactively. Their pre-released songs raced to the top of the Triple J punk charts and the “punks” were upset. “That’s not punk,” those Cro-mags screamed. Personally, I never minded being a punk if – along with the usual suspects - Tom Verlaine, Alan Vega, Debbie Harry and Cherry Vanilla were also punks. These days, the guys who run the “punk club” are exactly the kind of people you wouldn’t want to hang around with. Bosom, meanwhile, asked punters what genre do they actually belonged to. The correct answer is, of course, fuck this stupid iPod world where nerds need to set up a series of folders and sub folders. Fuck their genres and their labels.
There, I’ve had my say. As you’ve already guessed, this isn’t the Bosom album I was expecting. And why should it be? As I said earlier, good songs will see you through. If the band has decided to take them in a different direction to the live show, so be it. As soon as I stopped expecting the disc to be a replay of the last gig, I began to open to its charms. I’ve had the disc now for a month. It has never strayed far from the player in that time. I held back on reviewing anything in that time. I wanted to wait until I had something to say.
Firstly, as an album, the disc works. It has cohesion both musically and lyrically. It has its own vision and narrative. It has all those things that separate a great album from being a collection of songs assembled on a disc. Lyrically, Bosom live in a world somewhere between John Waters, Andy Warhol and early Pedro Almodovar. It’s a brightly coloured camp pop art world of testicle slapping, fried Chihuahuas and massacred cheerleaders.
Or is it? Beneath the shock value, banner headlines lurk the genuine horror tales of alienation and disorientation in a world gone mad. Bosom are at their absolute strongest as outsiders looking in; not belonging to this club or that. Wiz Trail stands front and centre with a sassy mouth and a knowing wink; a spokeswoman for the strange and those who wish they were. It’s not a bad job if you can get it.
Musically, Guitarist Rocky and Drummer/Programmer move more towards electronics in these recordings. Whilst I miss that live guitar roar, the end product here is tight, energetic and melodic. Pop music, really. “Firecracker”, “Suicide Bomb My Heart” and “Piece of You” are the kind of songs you would have looked forward to on Countdown or Top of the Pops if the world still had a place for such programmes; that magical time when everything that needed saying could be said in three minutes by saying absolutely nothing. Nine songs. Twenty-seven minutes. They got their maths dead right.
The Bosom album is an ideal opportunity to indulge your warped pop sensibilities. I still think I’ll prefer a live recording later but this album has more merit and credibility than anything I’ve pulled off the review pile in a while. Bosom may have emerged 30 years too late or 300 hundred years too soon. All I know is that I’ve been singing these songs for weeks as I do the chores. See. You start with good songs and you can’t go wrong. - Bob Short
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