Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Wonder Stuff - The Eight Legged Groove Machine - 1988


Like the Buzzcocks with the irony meter turned to 11, or a much less sweet-natured version of the so-called "blonde pop" bands of the time (Primitives, Darling Buds, etc.), the Wonder Stuff's debut album is a crisply recorded batch of buzzy little two-minute guitar pop songs. What made the Wonder Stuff different was the arrogant brashness — bordering on megalomania — of singer/songwriter Miles Hunt. Hunt's lyrics, typified by song titles like "No for the 13th Time," "Give Give Give Me More More More," and especially "Astley in the Noose" (a scathing condemnation of Stock-Aitken-Waterman-brand dance pop focusing on the insipid but basically harmless Rick Astley) are cutting and sarcastic; what saves the group is the fact that they never actually tip over into mean-spiritedness. The fact that the album's title is entirely descriptive helps considerably as well. Not a one of these songs is less than catchy and memorable, and the best, like "Rue the Day" and "Some Sad Someone," are outstanding. The Eight Legged Groove Machine is to be taken with a rather large pinch of salt, but it's a most enjoyable listen. -AMG

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